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Dealing with real estate during divorce proceedings

The family home is often one of the most contested assets in a divorce. Oftentimes, years of memories are tied to that property, and the thought of never stepping foot in there again can be difficult. The same can often be said of a beloved vacation property or cabin.

The two parties must reach some solution, however, in order to fully move forward into their new chapter of life. What might this solution entail?

How real estate is commonly handled

In most divorce cases, a piece of real estate used by both spouses and the family during the marriage will be considered marital property. Therefore, under Tennessee law, it is among the assets that must be split equitably between the separating parties. This can be done through an agreement between the spouses, or at the discretion of the court.

Generally, there are three common ways a family home will be divided as part of divorce proceedings:

  • One partner keeps the home, usually in exchange for another asset of similar value
  • The spouses agree to sell the property and split the proceeds
  • Both parties agree to continue co-owning the house together

While the latter is the least likely outcome, it may make sense in certain situations, such as for childcare reasons.

These outcomes can generally be applied to other marital real estate property as well.

Consider the financial consequences

If you are negotiating over a piece of real estate as part of property division, keep in mind that taking sole possession of a home is not as simple as it sounds.

First, if one spouse keeps the property, that person usually has to refinance in order to remove the other individual’s name from the mortgage. That’s not always easy or possible. In addition, owning a home by yourself comes with upkeep costs, including bills, repairs and taxes. If you live in a community, fees might also be a consideration.

These regular expenses can add up, and may not be realistic going forward.

Everybody’s situation and goals are different. What is most important is that you come away from discussions feeling good about the direction in which things are heading. That holds true whether you end up keeping a beloved piece of property or letting it go.