Who Gets the House in a Massachusetts Divorce?

By November 4, 2019Divorce, Family Law

Who gets the house in a divorceDivorce can be a difficult and stressful process. Not only are you separating from your spouse, but it feels like your entire life is flipping upside down.

If you purchased a home with your spouse, you might be wondering who will get the home. There’s no clear-cut answer according to Massachusetts law. A judge presiding over your divorce has to consider a lot of factors before declaring who gets the marital home.

There’s an added dimension of stress if your family is from China or Taiwan. Whether you have a different culture or language, you need a Chinese family attorney in Boston that can help you navigate the legal system with ease. If you’re worried about getting the house in your Massachusetts divorce, here’s what you need to know.

What are my options?

Your home falls under the legal umbrella term of “marital property.” Massachusetts judges try to split marital property in the most fair, equitable way possible. While this is way easier to do if you got a prenup, many couples choose not to get a prenup. That means you’ll have to decide how to split your assets, including your home.

After you assign value to your home, usually with a real estate valuation, you have two options: buying out your spouse’s share of the home, or selling the home.

1.   Buyout from your spouse

Let’s say you and your spouse agree that you should get the home. This is a popular option for couples with children who want their kids to grow up in one home.

In this case, if you have equity in the home, you would buy out your spouse’s share of the property. If you still have a loan on the house, you need to show the judge that you can afford a new mortgage that includes buying out your spouse’s share in the home.

Buyouts are one common way for a single spouse to get the home. Other factors  include sufficient assets (if you get other assets that equal the value of the home) or unequal allocation of the equity in your home due to  behavior during the marriage, etc.  (ie. racking up debt from a shopping addiction).

2.   Sell the home

In our experience as a Chinese family attorney in Boston, most Massachusetts couples opt to sell their home when they divorce. Sometimes both spouses agree to sell the home. However, if you and your spouse can’t agree on who gets the home, a judge can order to sell the home—so neither of you get it.

Once the home sells, the proceeds will cover loans, closing costs, and taxes before you each get a cut. Sometimes this is an even split, but depending on other factors, it may be an uneven split.

7 driving factors that decide who gets the home

Curious if you’ll get the house? Massachusetts judges look at several factors, in addition to the statutory factors spelled out in MGL. Ch. 208, Section 34, to determine who should get the house in a divorce.

This may include:

  • Finances: Can the spouse afford the costs of maintaining the home?
  • What you want: Does one spouse want the home, while the other doesn’t care?
  • Occupation: Is this spouse employed and reliable?
  • Children: Is the spouse planning to live in the home with their children?
  • Length of the marriage: For shorter marriages, judges try to get you back to where you were before the marriage. For longer marriages, there’s a more equal distribution of marital property.
  • Spousal misconduct: Did one spouse cause problems through violence, addiction, or infidelity, leading to the dissolution of the marriage?

Every divorce is different. While these are certainly factors the judge can consider, remember that there’s no sure-fire way to get the house in a divorce.

Hire the best Chinese family attorney in Boston

Every couple divorcing in Massachusetts has to divide their marital property. There’s no magic formula for getting the home in your divorce, but with the right lawyer on your side, you can protect your interests in court.

If you have questions about your rights during a divorce, reach out to Hu Law. We’re the premier Chinese family attorney in Boston, serving Chinese and Taiwanese families with culturally-sensitive and bilingual legal aid. Get in touch with us now to talk about your divorce.

Meihuei Hu

Meihuei Hu

Attorney Hu is also an accomplished family law litigator, with over thirteen years advocating for individuals in Probate and Family Courts throughout Massachusetts. She is a talented negotiator and mediator and has completed the Norfolk County Probate and Family Court Conciliator Training Program. She is dedicated to resolving matters of divorce, alimony, child support, child custody and visitation, and property division with the highest levels of skill, honesty, and discretion.