How Divorce Works in California: Keeping the House

Oftentimes, the largest asset a couple owns is their house. One of the most common questions asked by those trying to figure out how divorce works in California is who gets to keep the house in a divorce. The answer often depends on a number of factors unique to each case. At the law office of Kearney Baker, our team of California divorce attorneys understands the complexity of determining who gets the house in a divorce. We are here to zealously advocate for your best interests, so give us a call today to speak with an experienced attorney about your divorce case.

Separate or Marital Property?

The first factor that could determine who gets the house in a divorce in California is whether the home is separate or community property. If one spouse purchased the home prior to the marriage, it may be considered separate property. In that case, the home’s ownership would revert to the spouse who purchased it prior to the wedding. If the home was purchased after the wedding or has been improved upon with marital funds, it is considered community property and would be subject to distribution in the divorce case.

Prenuptial or Postnuptial Agreement?

The second factor that can determine who gets the house in a divorce in California is whether a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement exists that dictates property interests in the home. If a valid contract between spouses was signed that includes provisions for the marital home, then the house will be distributed according to the agreement in most cases. If no agreement exists or it is deemed void by a judge, the house would revert to community property and become subject to distribution in divorce.

Other Options for Distributing the Marital Home

If the marital home is deemed community property in your California divorce, there are multiple options to consider when determining who gets the house. It is important to remember that California operates as a community property state, which means that spouses must split all community property equally, 50/50, in a divorce. This does not mean that all assets must be split down the middle, but it does require that the combined value of assets is equal following the distribution of property.

If one spouse wants to keep the house, the value of the home must be made up with other assets for the other spouse. This could mean that the spouse keeping the home sacrifices a number of other assets in order to equal out property value in a divorce. If the couple cannot agree on who keeps the home, or if the value of the home far outweighs the combined value of other marital assets, another option is to sell the home and split the money between the spouses to maintain equity. Hiring an experienced divorce attorney is the only option to protect your interests in the house during your divorce case.

Learn More About How Divorce Works in California

If you would like to learn more about your rights and options in your California divorce case, call the office or contact us today at Kearney Baker to schedule an evaluation with one of our experts in California divorce law now.