What looms large in many divorces? You’re living in it.

One thing looms literally large in many divorces, and that is the house.

There it sits, a central element in the property division calculation, and, for most couples, the dominant and most obvious asset in which they have equity.

How to divide it in a divorce proceeding?

That might seem simple and intuitive to many people, but complications can crop up in many instances virtually as soon as a divorcing couple in Georgia or elsewhere begins to really think about it.

Some couples might be totally fine with just selling the real estate, the idea being that such a move will be quick and tidy, with the distribution being easy to assess and allocate.

Maybe so, maybe not. If a couple agrees on the division of assets (e.g., 50/50), selling the home can be the best way to go. If this breaks down into acrimony, though, things can bog down, with negotiations becoming protracted and problematic.

Even more questions and concerns can arise if one soon-to-be former spouse wants to keep living in the home, with the other splitting. This can happen if there are children in the marriage, or one person simply has a special attachment to the home.

Again, who gets what becomes a central question in the calculation. So, too, does the remaining person’s ability to pay off the other if there is an absence of cash to do so (again, the bulk of the assets many couples have are tied to the home).

Other important concerns can arise, as well. The departing party will want to be removed from the mortgage, and only the lender — not a promise from an ex-partner — can do this.. Also, some homes are still underwater from the recent recession in that they are now worth less than what is owed upon them.

If a family home is a key component in a divorce, a divorce attorney with in-depth experience in property division that includes real estate can be an important resource for answering questions and protecting a client’s legal and financial interests.

Source: Chicago Daily Herald, “Complications arise when splitting real estate in divorce,” Jack Guttentag, April 13, 2013

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