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The family home, community property and divorce

One of the most important decisions that a married couple will make is when and where to buy a home. This is the location in which they will live together and possibly raise a family. This particular spot will often hold many memories – some good and some not so good. However, whenever the California couple decides to divorce, what to do with this home can become an even more important decision.

In California, when a couple purchases a home, it is considered to be community property. As such, in the event of a divorce, it will be split with a 50/50 ratio. While this appears to be an easy task, in reality, there is often much more to be considered.

Sometimes, neither individual wishes to remain in a home that holds negative memories. In this case, the home can be sold and any equity divided like any other asset. However, depending upon the market, it is possible that the home will not be sold for an amount greater than the mortgage owed on it. In this case, a decision regarding the remaining mortgage balance will need to be made.

At other times, one of the individuals may wish to remain in the home. In this case, it is likely that the other individual will need to be removed from both the mortgage and the title to the property. For this to happen, the equity owed to the other party will need to be determined, and the individual will need to be able to qualify for the mortgage without the other spouse.

While the majority of California couples look forward to purchasing the family home, there is much to be considered. If the couple later decides to divorce, many decisions with lasting financial impact will need to be made. It is often prudent to discuss the situation with legal counsel prior to making any binding commitments.

Source: dailyrepublic.com, "Divorce and the family home", Nicole Solari, Oct. 15, 2016

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