Buying a house together is one of the most exciting moments for a couple. They will likely spend years paying off their mortgage and making that house feel like a home. If their relationship changes in the future, that home could become one of the most valuable resources they need to divide when they divorce.
Couples in Kentucky must either settle their own property division matters or litigate in family court. Contested divorces require that judges apply the state’s equitable distribution rules to the pool of marital resources, potentially including any equity in the home.
What steps should someone preparing for a Kentucky divorce take to properly address their home?
Clarify “the best outcome”
Planning before making any major moves in a divorce is of the utmost importance. People might otherwise let their emotions dictate their conduct, which can lead to unnecessary conflict and expense. For some people, staying in the family home is a rational expectation and an appropriate goal. Many others they come to realize that keeping the house is not the best goal, and they may instead seek their fair share of equity. Having specific goals for the home and property division matters overall can help people remain focused during the divorce process.
Set a reasonable value
What people paid for the home where they live is not necessarily what the home is worth if they sell it. Property values tend to appreciate over time. It is often necessary to bring in real estate professionals, such as appraisers, to establish the current fair market value for the home. That value then helps determine how much equity there is for people to divide.
Know when to compromise
Whether someone wants to receive their share of equity or to keep the house, they need to convince their spouse or the courts to agree to those terms. It is often necessary to compromise in certain aspects of the property division process to obtain preferred terms. Those who have already established clear goals may also have an idea of what concessions and compromises they can make without putting themselves at a long-term financial disadvantage.
It can be very difficult for those who have made financial investments in their marital home or who feel emotionally attached to the property to give up their interest in the home. Thankfully, the division of real property in a Kentucky divorce is not a winner-take-all process. Both spouses should receive a fair share of the marital estate, including the equity accrued at the home during the marriage.
Ultimately, being strategic when addressing major resources may help people obtain the best possible outcome in a Kentucky divorce.