Barbara J. Katzenberg, Attorney at Law

Splitting the residential home in Massachusetts

A residential home is a necessity for Worcester, Massachusetts families. However, once divorce is involved, the family home can complicate things, particularly when it comes to property division.

Usually, property division is accompanied by the division of properties and assets of both spouses. In Massachusetts, property division can be settled through equitable distribution. It may be important for divorcing spouses to identify which of their properties are considered marital and which are considered separate property. Most often, properties obtained during the marriage are divided fairly in divorce; however, simply determining the marital property may not be that easy, especially when it comes to a residential home.

When it comes to a residential home, there may instances when both spouses have their own contributions. Such circumstances should be considered in dividing the residential home, whether divorcing spouses decide to sell it or keep it. The division of the residential home can introduce complexities and make the divorce settlement last longer.

Divorcing spouses may want to try a formula that considers each person's contribution and share of the home. If they want to sell it, their total net share can be reimbursed from the proceeds. Selling the residential home may be the simplest way to settle the division. On the other hand, if one spouse wishes to keep the home, calculating each spouse's investment and principal payments will be helpful. Taking into account the current market value or appraisal of the home and the mortgage debt may also be useful. The calculation can identify how much cash the other spouse can claim in the property division.

The division of marital properties like a residential home may be just one factor. Considering the residential home, with its value and expenses, is critical for both spouses. Their decisions regarding the residential home may have financial implications, either good or bad. Including this kind of issue in divorce will hopefully encourage a fair divorce settlement between the spouses.

Source: Main Street, "When Divorce Divides a Home-Literally," Jeff Brown, April 11, 2013

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