Property Division Issues

by Clara
(Laurel, MD)


I and my soon to be ex-husband bought a house together. My greatest fear in getting a divorce right now is that I might not get the house. What should I do?

Real-Divorce Comments:
Hi, Clara,
Yes, dividing property is one of the hardest things divorcing couples do together. If you bought a house together, then chances are you only own half of it. Check with divorce attorneys in your area using AVVO on the MD page--seek some free consults there.

So, it depends on many factors, such as if what kind of state you live in (community property versus equitable distribution), whether you bought the house with inherited money, and if there will be "fault" in your divorce, among others.

Maryland is an equitable distribution state, so the other factors you would know. If you want to buy out your husband, that might be a great move for you, if you can afford to do it and maintain a house. If you have many years of payments into the house, I can see why you would want to keep it.

If not, renting might make a better option because you won't be locked into making a house payment if money is tight. (I say this because so many women don't realize that it's hard to afford the same lifestyle on just HER salary.)

You can begin your property settlement agreement anytime before your actual divorce hearing. But don't forget, this is all about negotiations. If you want to handle your divorce yourselves, you can, but you'd better be willing to compromise. Both parties lose stuff they want during a divorce. But, it's the uncontested divorce that makes it easier on the couple--you can decide at your own pace what, when, and how property is divided. You may wish to give up something important to your husband in order to get him to give up his half of the house.

Get it in writing ASAP before he changes his mind though! Don't walk away from negotiations or sign anything until you have also discussed pensions, investments, and alimony. Most women don't even know that their husband's pension (during their married years) is half hers and is considered marital property just like a home is.

Either way, best of luck to you!

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