Issues With Dividing a Family Home in a North Carolina Divorce

While many issues can arise during a divorce in North Carolina, one of the most pressing matters involves the family home. A family home is unlike other pieces of property that may be divided through equitable distribution. It has special significance due to the emotional attachment both spouses may have to their home. These spouses may have spent decades living in their family home, raising their children, carrying out renovations, and forming a strong connection to the local area. The prospect of losing this home can understandably be a major source of concern for many spouses in North Carolina.

If you are concerned about losing your family home in a North Carolina divorce, it makes sense to reach out to a dependable, experienced divorce attorney in the Charlotte region. These experienced professionals can help you keep hold of important assets as you go through a separation, and this includes your family home. Ideally, you should search for a divorce attorney who is specifically experienced with things like high conflict divorce and complex property division. These professionals can usually employ a range of proven strategies to help you pursue a favorable legal outcome.

Determining Whether a Property is Separate or Marital Property

Before a family home can even begin the process of equitable distribution, it needs to be classified as either marital property or separate property. Separate property is everything a spouse owns before the marriage took place, including any inheritance money received at any time. If the spouse owned the home before the marriage or purchased it entirely with their inheritance money, it is classified as separate property. In this situation, the spouse who owns the family home can simply ask the other spouse to leave.

A family home is marital property if both spouses are on the title. This can occur even if one spouse used inheritance money to partly pay for the home, although that spouse may be entitled to separate these “commingled” funds with the help of a financial expert.

North Carolina Always Requires One Spouse to Leave the Family Home

In all divorces, North Carolina clearly mandates that one spouse must leave the marital home. This is because in order to become eligible for a divorce in the first place, both spouses must live apart for a period of one year. In most situations, this means that one spouse must move out while the other stays in the family home. In some cases, the spouse who stays in the home also looks after any children.

However, this arrangement may lead to issues down the road. After both spouses have spent one year apart, they can then begin with the divorce proceedings. The issue is that North Carolina county courts tend to act in the best interests of the children. If they see that the children have spent one year living in the family home with a certain spouse, they are unlikely to disrupt the children’s lifestyle unnecessarily. They might grant that spouse primary custody and allow them to continue living in the family home for a significant period of time. The other spouse must then continue to live outside of the family home, and in some cases, they are forced to continue paying costs associated with their former home, such as mortgage fees and so on.

What Happens When Courts Oversee the Division of a Family Home?

If spouses fail to come to a fair agreement in regard to the family home, they may take the matter to court. The courts can then deal with the situation in whatever way they see fit. They might give the home to one spouse and order that spouse to give up other assets to make things more equitable. Alternatively, they could force the spouses to sell the home. This can be quite costly and time-consuming, as the housing market may not be in the best condition to do so. The spouse who is forced to move out may need to wait a long period of time before seeing any funds, and they will be forced to deal with their own living expenses in the interim.

Enlist the Help of a Qualified Attorney Today

If you are facing the prospect of a divorce in the Charlotte region, time is of the essence. The sooner you team up with a qualified divorce attorney, the better chance you have of pursuing a favorable outcome. If you have been searching for a dependable divorce attorney who has experience with complex property division, look no further than Arnold & Smith, PLLC. We can help you keep hold of your family home, or at the very least avoid many of the common issues associated with dividing this often-problematic piece of marital property. Contact us now at 704-370-2828.