Dear Claire: What Happens to My House in a Divorce?
Navigating Divorce and Real Estate: Key Considerations for Property Decisions
In the divorce court, if it’s cordial, and you’re both working it out and you’re sitting down with the mediator, you’re going to just kind of figure it out yourselves. What you want to make sure, and what you want to do, is probably sell the house before the divorce is filed. If you don’t do that, then everything has to be completed using line items. This is my understanding. Of course, I’m not into that [being a divorce attorney] and if you want references for that, I have them. But typically, everything that’s going to happen with the kiddos, all of that stuff. So, if you guys are just going to sit down and figure it out yourself, work it out, you have to decide what you want to do. Maybe one person gets 75% of the most valuable asset that you have, and so getting that figured out and getting everybody their funds as quickly as possible is usually ideal.
There is, of course, a bunch of different ways that this can go for whatever reason. Sometimes it might be, “We can barely speak to each other. We’re not going to be able to communicate about who gets what and how.” Just know that, for instance, if you both get lawyers and the divorce is filed, if there’s anything that’s recorded saying, “Hey, these two people are married and now they filed for divorce,” most of your assets are frozen. This is my understanding. There’s a bunch of nuances that I don’t know about. But in essence, nothing can happen until you work out all those details. And then work out all the other stuff, like the custody arrangement and childcare, and all of that in some other way.
The thing that you need to know and that you should always ask is how quickly do you want to get this done? Is it important to you to have the money from the house to be able to live or buy another property? All these are things you want to consider before you go out and just quickly file. Another thing that you should probably know, are there mediators in Portland?
I know a lot of people recently that are just doing no-fault divorces. You can meet with a mediator, and they help you work out all these details. They’re super helpful. But the other big thing you should know about real estate, in general, is that we can’t do anything that you can’t agree on. So, if you’re both on the title to the property and you can’t agree on how the split goes, we can’t sell your house. The money out of the proceeds has to go somewhere once it’s finalized and so if we list your house and sell your house and you can’t agree on who gets what, then that money has to go somewhere, and we need to know from you where it goes. So, it can be like, “Do we need this to happen soon?” Or, “Do we want to wait?” “Can we work it out ourselves?” “Or, “Do we need somebody to help us?” “Can we make this a priority so that we can resolve this piece and maybe save other more complicated things for instance, child and custody arrangements, for later?”
As you can tell this is a very complicated subject, as well as getting information about what the repercussions are. The people you probably should be talking are your CPA, your divorce attorney, of course, I’m happy to participate in this conversation early so that you know what you’re getting involved in.
I hope you’re all staying safe out there. And if you have any questions that you would like me to comment on, contact me at [email protected]. I’ll be happy to address them and you take care of yourself and I’ll see you next week.