How Can a Spouse Keep the House After Divorce?
In most marriages, the largest marital asset is the house. If you are contemplating divorce, or in the middle of the process, you may be wondering how you can keep the house after your divorce. Like all marital property, how a house is divided can be determined by the divorcing couple or by a judge.
Scenario 1: Couples agree on property division
If you and your spouse decide how you would like your house divided and are in agreement, the Wisconsin courts will sign off on this agreement providing that the division of property is deemed reasonable.
Scenario 2: Couples cannot agree on property division
If you and your spouse both want the house or cannot agree on the terms of dividing the house, then a judge will make that determination for you. And how the court makes that decision depends upon whether the house is considered separate or marital property. Factors such as how much each spouse is willing to pay for the house and whether a spouse can refinance or otherwise remove the other spouse’s name from any mortgages often factor into a court’s decision.
What is marital property?
Marital property refers to all property that is amassed by either one spouse without regard to when it was obtained or what funds were used to obtain it. In a divorce, marital property is subject to division between spouses.
What is separate property?
Separate property refers to property that belongs to one spouse, which may include any of the following and more:
- An inheritance that is kept separate and distinct from marital property
- Any gifts received from someone other than the spouse that are kept separate and distinct from marital property
Unlike marital property, separate property is not subject to division between the spouses in a divorce.
Wisconsin is a community property state
State laws dictate how property is divided in a divorce. In Wisconsin, a community property state, it is presumed that the marital property will be divided equally between the divorcing couple. Bear in mind that “divided equally” does not necessarily mean that the property will be shared 50/50. Property distribution typically reflects what the Wisconsin courts deem is an equitable distribution when considering all property, assets, and debts. In addition, in making this determination, the court may consider:
- How long the couple was married
- Any property either spouse brought into the marriage
- If either spouse has significant assets, such as separate property, that are not subject to division by the court
- Contributions to the marriage, either monetarily or in providing child care services or care of the home
- Earning capacity of each spouse, as determined by job history, skills, education, and local employment opportunities
- The spouses’ ages
- The spouses’ physical and emotional health
Wisconsin divorce lawyers with experience you can rely on
At the family law firm of Bandle & Zaeske, LLP, our Wisconsin divorce attorneys understand the challenges divorce presents to everyone involved. Our knowledgeable team has been helping families through all aspects of divorce and other family matters for more than 50 combined years. Let us help you through your divorce, division of marital property, child custody, and child support issues. We offer free confidential consultations to discuss your situation; contact us today at 414-359-1424 or online to schedule an appointment.