When couples in New Hampshire marry and purchase a home, it is with hopes that they will raise a family and grow old together in it. Sadly, life often changes in ways we cannot predict and sometimes a couple finds that after years of marriage they are no longer compatible and will decide to divorce.
One of the biggest decisions a divorcing couple must face is what to do with the family home. This is because the family home can be one of a couple’s most valuable assets. Everyone involved wants to make sure the property division process is fair to both spouses. For this reason, it is important to consider all your options for the family home in a divorce, so you can make sound decisions.
An overview of property division in New Hampshire
New Hampshire follows the laws of “equitable distribution” in the property division process in a divorce. Equitable distribution means assets will be divided as fairly as possible. While this sometimes leads to a relatively even division of assets, if fairness dictates it may mean reaching something other than an even 50/50 split. The goal is to ensure that each party receives their fair share of marital assets and debts.
Option one: One spouse keeps the home
Sometimes one spouse wants to keep the home more than the other. That spouse may have a deep emotional attachment to the property or may have primary custody of their children and want to continue raising the children in a familiar environment. In such situations, it may make more sense for one spouse to keep the home. If so, the spouse keeping the home can either exchange it for assets of a like value in the property division process, or the spouse keeping the home can obtain a loan and buy out their ex’s share in the property.
Option two: The spouses sell the home
Sometimes neither spouse can afford to be a homeowner on a single income on their own. Or the family home that was once so loved has now become a place of bad memories that both spouses want to put behind them. When this happens, the spouses may choose to sell the home and split the proceeds. Couples who choose this option will have to agree on the home’s appraised value and how much to sell the home for.
Option three: Both spouses continue owning the home together
A more unusual option is for both spouses to continue owning the home together. One spouse might live solely in the home even though both will continue to own it, or both spouses might take turns living in the home, especially if they are choosing “birds-nesting” as a form of child custody arrangements. If the couple is keeping the home together, agreements will have to be made and followed regarding who will pay the mortgage, who will pay for upkeep and who will do which chores. Sometimes a couple will choose to co-own the home until their children are grown, and then sell it. Or, depending on what the housing market looks like, a couple may choose to hold onto the home until market conditions make selling a favorable option.
A fair division of assets benefits all involved
Whether one spouse keeps the home, you both decide to sell it or you both decide to keep it, the ultimate goal is to ensure property division in your divorce is fair. When both partners to a divorce feel like the outcome is fair, it is easier to move forward into their separate lives.