Search Site

Who Keeps the Marital Home in a Divorce?

In Michigan, the division of marital property in a divorce is governed by the principle of equitable distribution. The goal is to achieve a fair and just settlement by giving consideration to all relevant circumstances. However, the marital home represents a particularly difficult asset to deal with. It is often the couple’s single most valuable piece of property and may also have special value as the place where children are reared.

Depending on the circumstances, a court carrying out equitable distribution may decide that one spouse should retain the family home, especially if there are children involved, and it’s in their best interest to maintain stability. Alternatively, the court may order the sale of the home and distribute the proceeds between the spouses.

Generally, there are three ways to divide the marital residence in a divorce:

  • Selling the house and splitting the sale proceeds — Most real estate gains value over time. For the majority of couples, selling a house means making a profit or at least breaking even. Before you put the house on the market, it’s important to get a professional appraisal. This helps avoid arguments over that the property is worth. Once the house sells, the proceeds are split fairly as part of equitable distribution.
  • One spouse keeps the house — Another option is for one spouse to remain in the home and to buy out the other spouse’s interest in the property. This can work well for couples who have young children and want to continue raising them in the family home. The spouse who is moving out can also quitclaim their interest in the property to the spouse who is remaining in the home. If possible, the parties should try to refinance the mortgage so that the person remaining in the home is the only one responsible for paying the mortgage and related expenses.
  • Both spouses keep the house — The spouses may decide to keep the house in both of their names. This arrangement can come about for a number of reasons. For example, the parties might owe more on their mortgage than their home is worth. There may be other financial or other circumstances that make it inadvisable to sell. The home might be retained as investment property and leased out, with the spouses sharing the rent and expenses of maintenance. If this option is chosen, the parties must be able to get along and communicate. Otherwise, they will be back in court on a regular basis.

Whenever possible, it is better for the spouses to work out a practical arrangement for splitting the marital home rather than have the court order a sale. An experienced Michigan divorce attorney can advise you on the option most suitable for your situation.

Dawson Family Law, PLLC in Sterling Heights has more than 40 years of experience representing clients in divorce matters. Schedule your free consultation by calling 833-671-4445 or contact me online.

Contact us

Please fill out the form below and one of our attorneys will contact you.

Quick Contact Form

Office Location
  • Sterling Heights Office
    43805 Van Dyke Avenue
    Sterling Heights, Michigan 48314
    Phone: 586-731-7400
    Fax: 586-731-6370
  • AV Badge
  • "Dave Dawson was very helpful and informative. He is a no nonsense kind of attorney that gets results. I would recommend to a friend."  --J.L.

  • "Mr. Dawson, Brilliant work! Yesterday I still couldn’t believe you actually brought me back to life and thinking back how you did your best – brilliant – thank you!"  --Holger K.

  • "Dear David, Thanks so much for everything! You have done so much for me these last couple of months! I am eternally grateful."  --Ryann M.

  • "David, I really appreciate being able to refer clients who can benefit from your knowledge and experience. Thank you,"  --Jon Corbin