Divorce is different in every state, and each couple’s divorce is inherently unique. That means that there is no simple, straightforward answer for the majority of concerns about the divorce process. When it comes to something as complex as how the courts handle your home, it’s generally impossible to predict the exact outcome of court-based divorces. Just because you’ve heard a story about one divorce doesn’t mean that your outcome will be the same.
Given that your marital home is one of the biggest purchases and investments of your life, it’s only natural to want to know what will happen with your home. Thankfully, by familiarizing yourself with Pennsylvania state laws about equitable distribution and divorce, you can at least understand the most likely outcomes.
Sometimes, you get to set the terms for dividing your home
If you and your spouse agree to an uncontested divorce, that may make asset division much easier. Whether through mediation or careful consideration, you can set the terms for your own divorce, including how to divide your assets. If the outcome is patently unfair, however, the courts may not agree to the terms as you set them.
Similarly, prenuptial agreements can guide the asset division process, but only in some cases. If you have a valid prenuptial agreement, that could outline what you can expect for parts of your divorce. However, the courts may decide to set aside part or all of a prenuptial agreement, leaving you with little certainty about the outcome of your divorce. This is particularly true if the agreement was signed under duress or too heavily favors one spouse over the other.
Many times, the courts will decide what to do with your home
If you can’t agree on terms and don’t have a valid prenuptial agreement on record, the Pennsylvania courts will review your assets and decide how to divide them in a manner that is fair and equitable. Those assets will typically include your home, unless one spouse inherited or owned it outright prior to the marriage. Even then, the courts may determine that the other spouse has some interest in the property.
In some situations, the courts may award the home to one spouse. When that happens, the other spouse usually receives a share of the equity in the home or assets of comparable value. The spouse retaining the home will very likely need to refinance the home to update both the mortgage note and the vesting for the property.
Other times, the courts may order the sale of the familial home. In that scenario, the spouses typically split either the outstanding debt on the home or any equity proceeds from the sale. Specifics about your case, such as income and custody agreements, can impact how the courts rule.