Factors to consider when deciding the fate of the marital home

When two spouses are getting a divorce in British Columbia, their family property and debt is equally divided between them, unless they have a legal agreement that states otherwise. Their marital home is included in this, so the spouses have to decide whether one or both of them will keep it or whether they will sell.

If one spouse wants to keep the marital house, the individual needs to be confident about keeping up with the mortgage payments and other bills such as insurance, utilities, taxes and maintenance on one income. The spouse might also have to buy the other spouse’s share of ownership in the property, which might involve giving up some other marital assets.

Meanwhile, the other spouse needs to think about whether this decision will affect personal feelings in the future; for example, if the spouse meets someone new and moves that person into the former marital home. When the decision for the spouse to keep the house is made, the other spouse should obtain an appraisal to value the home.

Sometimes the continued joint ownership of the house for a period of time following the divorce is appropriate. One example of this is when one parent has physical custody of children from the marriage. It could be in the best interests of the children for the spouses to keep the home at least until they graduate high school.

A third option, however, is selling the property. In this situation, each spouse needs to determine whether selling will put them in better financial positions after deducting the rest of the mortgage and selling costs. They also need to consider how much is left when they split the proceeds.

It is not always easy for divorcing spouses to amicably agree on what to do with their marital home. Spouses who disagree could see a mediator for help or ask their lawyers to do the negotiating for them. When no resolution is found, the court is often left to make the decision.

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