So what do you do when you’re getting a divorce in California and you have a home that is rapidly losing value? Who gets to keep the house? How can you sell it when the home is worth less than what you owe on it? How do you get the home sold as quickly as possible while there still is some equity in it, but your spouse refuses to move out or cooperate with you?
As family law attorneys, we are charged with looking at a wide variety of solutions for families facing a brutal economy at the time of their divorce. The family residence may be community property, but what happens if the the house has no equity? What if you want to keep the home because you are convinced the market will recover next year, but your spouse insists that it must be sold? The truth is, the solution that is right for one family may not be right for the next family. On top of that, we have to consider what the mortgage lender(s) will and/or won’t be willing to agree to in the aftermath of a divorce. Maybe your case is appropriate for a “deferred sale” agreement, whereby both spouses maintain title to the home but it is agreed that the home will sell at a future date and the proceeds split at that time. Or maybe your spouse is willing to keep the house and the debt while you simply want “out” and to get a fresh start.
In these troubled times, it may be worth a consultation with an experienced family law / divorce attorney who can help you with these questions. Even if you plan on handling your divorce yourself without an attorney, an attorney can help you understand your rights and obligations, offer suggestions to help ease the transition from married back to single life, and provide a range of possible alternatives for what to do with the family home (and the pros and cons of each) that perhaps you hadn’t yet considered.
For more information about community property division and other California family law issues, please contact attorney Gary D. Sparks.