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How is a house divided after a divorce? 

Real Estate Division Divorce

Getting a divorce is not an event that couples plan on, but it’s certainly a common end to so many marriages in the U.S. and throughout the world. Not only do the people involved feel betrayal and disappointment at the failure of the marriage, but potential children and property are also tremendously affected. 

If you bought a house before marriage, there are still questions to answer about who gets what after a divorce. You also need to figure out who gets custody of the children and decide whether there are any other damages that need to be paid for. Hopefully, the divorce isn’t caused by one spouse physically or emotionally abusing the other one.  

We’ll discuss the specifics of property ownership in the aftermath of a divorce. We’ll also look into how children change up the equation and how lawyers will help you and your family decide who gets what possessions after a legal breakup. Are you required to add children to your car insurance after divorce? 

Custody and property ownership are intertwined in a divorce, and one issue affects the other.  

Who gets the property that was owned before marriage? 

All property bought before the marriage, such as homes, cars, vacation cabins, etc., are all property of the person who originally bought the property. It is no longer community property if it was bought before the marriage and the union has ended in divorce.  

If the house was bought after the marriage, the person who contributed more to the loan payments, mortgage, and improvements around the property will likely keep the house after the split. It will also depend on which parent gets to maintain full custody of any children, as they are going to need to stay in the house more than either parent. 

As mentioned, improvements matter a lot more than you would originally think they do. If the home was bought without a swimming pool in the backyard, or without a garden on the side of the house, then those items will definitely add to the total value now that it is up for grabs. Who contributed the most money to buy those items will get the extra value of the property.  

Topics related to property can get quite messy and expensive, and many couples will decide to go the route of arbitration. This means that a third party outside of the court system will settle the disputes surrounding what belongs to whom without having to spend extra resources going before an active court system.   

Where does the child go after the divorce? Who gets custody and when?  

Many people assume that the mother will always get the child during a divorce. They are the ones who gave birth to the baby, and many people assume the mom is more comforting and protective than the father. Courts are not supposed to think about these predispositions and go strictly on a case-by-case basis.  

Most lawful officials will try to decide which parent will provide for the best interests of the child in a more engaging manner. This means the child can also give their own preferences to law officials for which parents they would want to spend most of their time with.  

Custody is all about placing the child in the care that will result in the best possible upbringing. Say both parents are equally compassionate, and the child enjoys both of their presences equally. This is when other factors would come into play. 

Which parent has to work more? Which parent is more likely to have the time to attend parent-teacher conferences, or go to a sporting event that their son or daughter is playing in?  

Another factor in child custody is dividing property assets accordingly. The courts are going to want children to be in the best living space that they can be. 

This means that if the father gets to keep the family home because he owned it before, and the house is close to the school that the child has been attending, they are more likely to get full custody of the child than the mother.  

But what if the father has been deemed abusive or not a good fit, either because the child has complained about his parenting, or because he can’t be around to do his job as a parent because he is off at his place of employment? 

It’s all about finding the right balance between the issues and whether the courts deem one side of the story more imperative than the other. Just know that issues related to violence, abuse, or neglect are going to override all other determining factors in a custody dispute, including if the abusive parent has a better living space or is located closer to the school.  

Uncontested Divorce Offers a Quick and Simple Route 

Typically, there are two main types of divorce — contested and uncontested. Though every case is different, almost all divorces fall between the lines of these two categories.  

Contested divorce is what is most commonly considered when people mention divorce. There is disagreement over assets and how investments will be split. Contested divorce often results in a trial where a judge helps the couple determine their assets from the divorce. The process can be long, lengthy, and stressful for all parties involved.  

Uncontested divorce offers a shorter, easier route. However, it is uncommon because many couples divorcing cannot come to their own agreements.  

In an uncontested divorce, both parties have come to an agreement on how their assets will be split and on all other terms of their separation. This process is much less costly and complicated, but commonly a massive challenge to reach. 

If you are on good terms with your soon to be ex-spouse, consider the option of uncontested divorce over the alternative. Not only will the process save you both a lot of money in court fees, but it can also cause much less strain on your relationship with each other and possibly your children.  

Miscellaneous Collateral of a Divorce on Home Ownership 

What if the family lives in an apartment or a condo before a divorce takes place? Nobody will take ownership of the living space, but the person who is primarily paying for the apartment rent will get to keep living there as long as they pay their rent.  

What if one of the parties decides to sell the house, they both have been living in and both people move into a new location? The person who owned the house first will get the rights to most of the money made from the sale. If it was bought after the marriage took place, the property sales money should be split fairly between both parties.  

The most important thing to remember is who owned the property before the marriage. If something was bought afterward, it will be divided equally. If not, the original owner will get more of the property.  

You may find some state laws differ from others, so it’s essential to check the specifics of where you reside before proceeding with your divorce. Division of assets and earnings can vary, as some states require an equal split no matter who made payments or legally purchased them.  

In certain states, equitable distribution is required. Through this process, assets and earnings made by the couple throughout their marriage must be split fairly. This process does not necessarily mean equally, but a judge will determine what is fair for each party to obtain.  

If your child is a teen, both parents will need to include them on their separate policies if the child will be driving either car. 

Try to work together for both of your futures and for your kids. Divorce is an emotional whirlwind, so don’t let it cloud your judgment and cause other harsh reactions that you will regret down the road. Think before you act and talk to legal professionals to get what is best for you.  


Shawn Laib writes and researches for the legal advice website He helps couples and their children figure out the next steps after legal action has taken place between family members in the same household.  

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