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Can I keep the family home in my divorce?

Both spouses usually own the family home together as a part of the marital estate. This can leave the question of who will stay in the family residence somewhat unclear. Since a home is usually worth over a hundred thousand dollars — often several hundred thousand dollars — allowing one spouse to keep the residence may not even be possible.

Here are two property settlement scenarios that could apply to your situation if you're in the midst of a divorce and need to divide your shared residence:

You and your spouse bought the home together. The mortgage is paid off and there are no minor children living at home. If you bought the home and paid off its mortgage together, you both have a right to part of the home's value. The court will often divide ownership of the home 50-50 in these cases. If one of the spouses intends to stay in the home, this spouse will need to give up something else of equal value in exchange for the the other spouse's share of the residence.

If the home is the highest-value item in the marital estate, the spouse who stays in the home may need to take out a mortgage to pay the other spouse his or her share. If a mortgage cannot be secured, the home will need to be liquidated and the assets divided.

The issue of dividing the home in a situation like this could become complicated if both spouses want to keep the property. A court battle could ensue, and if no agreement is reached, a judge could order that the home be liquidated and the proceeds divided. Alternatively, one spouse might win the suit and keep the home for a number of reasons.

You and your spouse own the home and you have children who live with you. If you and your spouse own your residence, and minor children or other dependents live with you, whichever spouse the court deems to be the children's primary caretaker will be the spouse granted the right to keep the home. However, that spouse will still likely need to compensate the other spouse for his or her share of the value of the home.

If there is any question about who will keep your family home, you may want to look deeper into how your situation will be treated under Connecticut family law.

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