Home Foreclosure

Most married couples own their home together, which means that both of their names are on the title. That's why deciding what to do with the family home is often one of the most significant issues that divorcing couples face.

Many couples agree to sell their home and split the proceeds because the mortgage is just too much for one person to afford alone. Further, selling the home can provide much needed cash for both spouses as they start their new lives with all of the expenses that living as a single person involves.

Partition Lawsuits

What if one spouse wants to sell the home and the other doesn't? There is a legal method for forcing a sale of property. It's called a partition lawsuit.

These lawsuits can be stressful and expensive -- something that no one needs if they're already in the midst of a divorce or have just emerged from one. However, it may be the only way to compel the sale of joint property when one owner is unwilling to do so. The owners then generally divide the proceeds of the sale.

What If You Have a Mortgage?

What if, like most Americans, you still have a mortgage on your home? You can still file a partition lawsuit to force the sale. When the property is sold, the owners will then pay off the mortgage. If they're fortunate, they make enough from the sale to cover the remaining amount owed on the mortgage. If they don't, they'll have to come up with the money some other way.

Of course, a partition lawsuit should probably be your last resort. Most couples find a way to work out what will happen to the house. If one spouse is set on keeping it, he or she can buy out the other person's share.

However, make sure that you can afford to keep the house on your own, whether there is still a mortgage or not. Even if the home is paid off, the property taxes, homeowners dues, utilities and maintenance costs involved in homeownership can add up to a substantial amount.

You may be able to achieve a settlement in which your spouse covers some of these expenses, at least for awhile. Whatever you decide to do, weigh the costs and benefits and consider the long-term consequences before you make your decision. Your divorce attorney can provide guidance and recommend other professionals who can help you.