Can either Spouse Keep the Family Home During Divorce?

When a couple in Washington decides to seek a divorce, part of the process will be dividing their assets. As a community property state, Washington law says that most assets and debts acquired during the marriage are jointly owned and therefore divided equally, including the family home. A divorcing couple does not necessarily have to sell the home and split the proceeds. There are other factors that might affect how the family home is handled during divorce.

Negotiating for the Family Home

For couples who have acquired many assets, the negotiations around the division of property might be less focused on splitting each asset 50-50 and more on looking at the collection of assets together. This way, spouses can negotiate which assets each wants to keep, consider the individual value and reach an agreement that is equal and fair. In this way, either spouse might keep the family home after divorce in exchange for the other spouse keeping a different property.

Other Options

When neither spouse is sure that they want to keep sole ownership of the family home, there are options they might consider. These include:

  • Continuing to co-own the family home
  • Buying out the other spouse’s share of the home after the division of property is complete
  • Selling the family home and dividing the proceeds equally

Additional Factors That Might Affect What Happens to the Family Home

Prenup or postnup agreements establishing separate and marital property can affect what happens to the family home. In other cases, addressing the family home can be more complex as one person might have bought it before marriage but the value of the home increased during the marriage, so the appreciation in value is considered marital property.

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