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What happens to the marital home in a divorce?

One of the most difficult issues for many divorcing couples in Maryland is deciding what to do with the marital home. While Maryland state divorce law requires a fair and equitable division of all joint assets, selling a house and splitting the proceeds down the middle is not always feasible or practical. Negotiating a property settlement can be very complicated and the stakes are high.

One of the first things to do when deciding what to do with the marital home is to have it appraised. In some cases, both parties may agree on an appraiser to hire, but in others both parties may want to commission their own appraisals. It may be important for each person to involve their family law attorney in this process to ensure that the appraisal that is used is objective.

In some cases, when one of the spouses owned the home prior to marriage, it is also necessary for a real estate appraiser to determine what the property was worth before it became part of the marital estate.

Once fair market value is finally established, it is necessary to subtract existing mortgages to determine the equity. At this point, parties can decide with the assistance of their attorneys what to do with the home. If there is a significant amount of equity, it may be wise to sell the home and split the proceeds. If there are children involved, it may be preferable for the custodial parent to keep the home.

In cases without children, one of the parties may still want to keep the home for one reason or another. In such cases it may be possible for him or her to buy the other party out, or give the other party other marital assets in exchange. In order to decide what is best, it is important to consider children, tax implications, any debts and liabilities, and current and future housing needs, in addition to other things. Skilled attorneys should help divorcing couples negotiate appropriate settlement terms when it comes to these complicated matters.

Source: Forbes, "Seven Key Points Divorcing Women Need To Know About Real Estate And Real Estate Appraisals," Jeff Landers, Jan.22, 2013

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