If you’re going through a divorce, you probably have concerns about what your life is going to look like afterwards. Even if your marriage dissolution is amicable, there are still changes to work out with your spouse. One important decision in a divorce is figuring out who will get to keep the family home.
Oklahoma applies the rule of equitable distribution when deciding each spouse’s share of property in a divorce. Equitable does not necessarily mean an equal division of assets. A court first must determine if an asset is separate or marital property. Separate property is any asset that was obtained before the marriage. Inheritances or personal gifts not from your spouse are also considered separate property, even if they were given to you during the marriage. If any of your assets are considered separate property, you usually get to keep them. Marital property is any asset that was acquired during the marriage and is subject to being divided by the court.
The family home is a unique and valuable asset that presents special challenges in equitable distribution. For one thing, the home’s status as separate or marital property is sometimes at issue. For example, if your spouse purchased your home before the marriage, it is his or her separate property. But if you contributed financially towards renovating it after the marriage and the home’s value increases, the amount of appreciation in equity might then be considered marital property.
After the court has determined what part of the home’s equity is marital property, a value will then be assigned to the property. To decide the value of a home, the court will usually use an appraisal from a real estate agent to decide how much the house is worth.
Even if the home is determined to be marital property, dividing it can be problematic. It may not be beneficial or practical to sell it during the divorce and split the proceeds. One spouse may have better claim for keeping the home, such as the spouse who will have primary physical custody of the children. If one spouse is awarded possession of the home, the other will be granted an amount or money equal to his or her share of the equity value. This is known as property division alimony.
When facing a divorce and the future of your marital home, you need sound legal advice. Having the support of an attorney to walk you through each stage of your divorce can make the process easier for you to navigate.