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Houses and property division in divorce cases

In many cases, a Pennsylvania couple who is divorcing will own a home which they purchased after they were married. Even in cases in which the mortgage of a house that was purchased after marriage only lists one person, the home will still be considered marital property and thus subject to division.

Most often, both people's names will be on the home's mortgage or deed. In those cases, if the couple does not decide to sell the home and split the sale proceeds, they may need to arrive at an agreement regarding its disposition. Many times, one spouse will want to stay in the home and the other will then leave. A person who wants to keep the house in a divorce may need to do several things.

A spouse may offer to give a higher percentage of assets such as retirement accounts or other types of property in exchange for the other's equity interest in the home. When there is a mortgage, lenders will hold both parties responsible for the mortgage even if the court orders otherwise. Thus, the spouse who keeps the home may need to refinance it in his or her own name. Failing to make certain this occurs can mean the other spouse's credit will be tied up, preventing him or her from getting a new mortgage and making them liable in the event the remaining spouse fails to make the mortgage payments.

Property division in a divorce case can be one of the most complicated parts of the process. Although the parties' emotions may be running high, it is often in both of their interests to carefully negotiate a fair property division settlement with the assistance of their respective attorneys. If a settlement agreement cannot be reached, the decision regarding how marital property will be divided will be left up to the judge.

Source:, "How to Divide Your House in a Divorce", Scott Sheldon , December 04, 2014

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