The marital home is often the most sought-after and contested asset in the property division process during a divorce. The huge sentimentality attached to a house, apart from the monetary value, can make both the spouses vie for their most coveted asset.
If you are going through a divorce in Auburn, AL, speak with one of our Alabama family law attorneys to know more about equitable distribution and how we can help you decide whether you should keep your home for your kids’ sake. In the meanwhile, read on to get answers to some of the questions you might have regarding division of assets and how the marital home might be handled during this process.
Marital property vs. Separate Property
Separate property typically refers to assets acquired by either spouse before marriage or outside of it, such as a gift or an inheritance; while marital property usually includes all property acquired by the couple during their marriage.
The first step in the division of assets during divorce proceedings in an Alabama court is identifying and determining marital and separate property. Marital property is generally governed by equitable distribution laws, but the separate property is not.
Is Your House Marital Property in Auburn, AL?
Under most circumstances, Alabama laws consider a house that the couple lives in as marital property. This remains the predominant approach even when one spouse purchased the property before marriage. If the other spouse can conclusively establish their contribution to the house, whether monetary or non-monetary, they have a chance to keep part of the marital home.
While monetary contributions may include paying expenses for the upkeep and day-to-day running of the household or money spent on renovations; non-monetary contributions can be in the form of performing daily chores or raising children.
Factors that Determine Property Division in an Auburn Divorce
Like almost half of the states in the country, Auburn, Alabama divorce laws follow the equitable distribution system. Under the equitable distribution doctrine, the principle of equity, or fairness is applied to divide all of the assets and debts of a married couple in an Auburn divorce.
If you are involved in a divorce proceeding in Auburn or considering doing so, you must understand that the equitable distribution principle does not imply that a couple’s assets and debts will be divided equally. The nuanced approach makes a careful evaluation of many factors. Some of these factors that may affect property division in an Auburn, AL divorce case are:
- Monetary and non-monetary contributions by both the spouses
- The length of time both were married to each other
- The potential ability of both the spouses to earn a living after their divorce
- Instances of adultery or abuse by either spouse during the marriage
- Likely share of either spouse in childcare after the divorce
Assets and Debts Subject to Division in an Auburn Divorce
As we discussed above, all of the assets, including property and money of an Auburn, AL couple going through a divorce, are divided into marital property and separate property.
Apart from certain exceptions, separate property generally includes any assets owned by either spouse before marriage. Therefore, each spouse will keep his or her separate property during an Auburn divorce.
Marital property, however, typically includes assets that either spouse purchased, earned, or obtained during their marriage. These assets may include investments, retirement accounts, money, or business assets, apart from other types of valuables each spouse received while married. All these are subject to division in an Alabama divorce.
Distributive Share in the Marital Home in Auburn, AL
Under the distributive share process, a divorce court may award both spouses a share in the marital home. When this happens, one spouse is legally required to buy out the share of the other spouse.
In another scenario, the court may award exclusive possession of the home to one spouse for a particular duration, requiring them to sell the house by a certain date. In this case, the spouse with exclusive possession can remain in the marital house without the other spouse staying there.
The court may also award the house to one spouse and compensate the other spouse by awarding them other property to offset the value of the marital house. Yet another way, known as deferred distribution, could see the judge award the marital home to either of the spouses until an event takes place.
Although there are several possibilities of who would keep the marital house, the spouse with child custody, more often than not, retains the house in an Auburn, AL divorce. The factors discussed above have a substantial influence on the court’s decision in the division of property in general and awarding the marital home in particular.
Should I Keep the Marital Home for the Kids’ Sake?
There is no right answer to this question – it depends entirely on your specific situation. If you are the one who will be receiving primary physical custody of your children, the main consideration is whether or not it will be feasible for you to keep and maintain the marital home.
Assuming there are sufficient marital assets to allow you to keep sole possession of the home, the next question is can you afford to maintain it? A divorce means that a couple now has to maintain two households on the same overall income, and this kind of situation can leave things pretty tight financially.
There is, of course, also the feelings of your children to take into consideration. If they grew up in the home, they might have strong attachments to it, as well as to the neighborhood, their friends, and the school they attend. If this is the case, you would want to do everything you can not to disrupt their childhood by having to relocate. Divorce is hard enough on kids as it is, so it is nice to maintain at least some stability after the marriage is dissolved.
At the end of the day, you will need to weigh financial considerations with emotional ones. If you are confident that you can afford to maintain the home, then keeping it might be the right thing to do. But if you see it as a financial struggle, then staying there might only be prolonging the inevitable, meaning that you might have to move out of there later on when you are in a worse financial position. Speak with your attorney as well as your financial advisor about this issue and which option might be best in your case.
Contact Experienced Divorce Attorneys at the Alsobrook Law Group
The Alsobrook Law Group has been proudly serving clients in Auburn, Alabama, with skills and proficiency in matters of family law, divorce, estate planning, business law, class actions, and many other types of legal disputes. Our compassionate and committed legal team will help you through the challenges and frustrations of an acrimonious divorce battle, and make sure you get what you deserve to start living a joyful and dignified life again.
Call us today at 334-345-2765 if you are looking for reliable legal representation, or contact our firm online to schedule a consultation with one of our attorneys.