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The family home generally represents the most significant asset for many married couples in California. When spouses decide to divorce, their settlement must detail who gets the house or if the property will be sold and the proceeds divided. Emotional factors, such as attachment to a location or a desire to limit disruption for children, often complicate decisions about the marital home.

In most cases, the easiest approach requires the sale of the property. The sale frees both ex-spouses from future financial burdens related to the property and allows them to go their separate ways. Divorcing couples also have the option of delaying the home’s sale. Their divorce settlement will need to specify the terms that will trigger the future listing of the property for sale. The parties may want to wait for their local real estate market to improve so that they get a better price. A delay of one or two years might also ease the transition for any children involved.

When one person feels strongly about keeping the home, they must evaluate the affordability of that choice. A financial analysis could reveal that a single income cannot maintain the home. This fact could convince the future ex to sell the home after all. If the home is affordable, then the departing spouse should be bought out in cash and removed from the deed.

A person who needs to make important decisions about a divorce could seek advice from an attorney. A legal review of the person’s situation could provide insights about taxation on the proceeds of a sale or distribution of a retirement account. An attorney could also represent the client during private negotiations or in court and strive to gain a fair settlement.