The “family home” is a special place in any family. In many cases, it is the largest family asset. Its little wonder when a family breaks down, property will be central to a divorce settlement. All assets will need to be identified and valued, as part of the process of working out what there is to divide up. The home and any other properties will be included in this process, regardless of whose name the property is in. One spouse could buy the other out and keep the house. Or the property could be sold and the proceeds divided. If there are children, a parent will often want to stay put to maintain as much continuity as possible. When this is the case, the other partner may receive other assets to even up the distribution. Or they may agree to defer receiving the balance until the property is sold when the children move out, or the former spouse remarries. This is commonly known as a “Mesher Order.” The downside of a traditional Mesher Order is both parties then remain on the mortgage. This often makes it very difficult for the person who has moved out to obtain a new mortgage.


Valuing The Property

Whatever option is selected, the property will need to be valued for the settlement. If a couple can't agree upon a value, the court will order a joint report from a local licensed real estate agent or appraiser. They will be instructed by the parties jointly. They have a duty to the court to report accurately. The figure given will be a market valuation, i.e., what the expert thinks the property would sell for, rather than a suggested asking price. Valuations can be updated if there is a significant rise or fall in the market.

Deeded Owners

Re-marrying or divorcing does not alter your 'face value' property rights – it doesn't change who owns what at the Registry of Deeds – but being married and owning property together creates an obligation to each other. Even if a house is only in the name of one spouse, if it’s the marital home, the other has a legal right to occupy it as long as they remain married to each other.

 Moving On

If you do not have children, or you’ve decided the best option is to sell the family home, it could bring on added problems. Selling a property in any market condition can be difficult. In some parts of the country, house sales are very slow. This could leave you with a choice of holding onto a home you no longer want, or reducing your price for a quick sale. If the house needs work, an investor may be your best option. If it’s “move in” condition, a real estate agent may be a better choice for you. Even if you are receiving regular maintenance funds from your ex-spouse, you will need to search carefully for a lender willing to take it into account. Lenders have very different ways of treating maintenance payments. Some will only accept a percentage of the payments. As a suggestion, “newly single” sellers may consider renting in the short term. This would allow you to move forward with living arrangements without the added the extra pressure of having to get back into the buyer’s market immediately. Divorce is complicated, period!


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This is one of those subjects you should get legal help in sorting out your difference.  We can answer any questions as it relates to real estate and I encourage you to reach out to us so we can answer any of your questions you may have? In the meantime, you can email me at our Contact Us page with any questions and I’ll get back to you right away… Or feel free to call me directly at (508) 859-1900 if you’re ready to discuss your situation today.

Joe Abbascia