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What happens to your family home in Pennsylvania divorce?

On Behalf of | Jan 10, 2023 | Family Law

When you file for divorce in Pennsylvania, you may not know what exactly to expect. The stories you have heard from other people often won’t apply to your current situation. In fact, they may not have even divorced in the same state, which means that their insight is not useful for your situation.

Divorce requires that spouses address their shared obligations. If they have children, they will need to come up with a parenting plan that explains in detail how they will share the responsibilities that they have to their children. Sometimes, couples may need to negotiate terms for spousal support if one spouse has depended on the other and will need support before they can live independently again.

Spouses also have to divide their property, which can be a very challenging process. The home where the two of you live is likely one of your most valuable belongings. Possession of the home could also influence everything from your daily commute to your custody arrangements. What can you expect to happen with your house in your Pennsylvania divorce?

Most spouses have to share home equity

Given that you have used marital income to make mortgage payments or improvements to the property, at least some of the home equity you have accrued over the years is likely subject to division in your divorce proceedings. Some couples can negotiate their own settlement regarding their marital home.

For example, maybe the two of you can agree that the parent with more time with the children will be the one to keep home. Other times, financial concessions, like giving up a claim to a retirement account, might allow one spouse to keep the home. Some couples choose to sell their home and share what they make in the sale. If they can’t settle on their own, then a judge will make those decisions.

How a judge will divide your property

Every judge in Pennsylvania will need to use the same standard when dividing people’s property in a divorce. They will have to reach a conclusion that they believe is fair and reasonable. Equitable distribution rules give judges a lot of discretion regarding how they manage a couple’s assets and debts in a divorce. You generally have to abide by whatever decision a judge makes related to your marital property.

The first step in preparing for negotiations will likely be determining how much of your home equity is marital property and what your house is currently worth. From there, you can start discussing how to handle the home in a fair manner with your spouse or prepare a strategy for advocating for your preferred outcome in divorce litigation. Learning more about property division rules can help those preparing for an upcoming Pennsylvania divorce.