For the average married couple, the home that they share represents the most significant investment of their adult lives. Both parties likely spent months or even years scraping together money for the down payment. After securing a mortgage and closing on a house, a good portion of the household wages every month will go directly to a mortgage.
Beyond that, you may find yourself investing money in repairs or upgrades. Anything from remodeling to updating your electrical systems will cost a significant amount of money. Considering how much money you spend on it, as well as how much emotional attachment you likely develop to it, it is normal to want to ensure you receive your share of the home in the divorce.
Whether you hope to retain possession of the house or not, you certainly deserve your share of the equity established in the home. Finding a fair way to determine that number isn’t always simple.
The courts will want to know how much debt and equity you have in your home
The first step toward placing a price on your share of the home is to determine what the home itself is worth. There are several ways that you can do this. You can use the purchase price for the property, if you purchased it within the last few years and haven’t made significant renovations. Otherwise, you may need to have a professional come out and determine what your home is currently worth.
The courts will want to know how much you have paid toward the principal balance on your mortgage, as well as how much debt is still secured by the home. Finally, the courts will also look at the amount of money you have invested in renovations, repairs and other maintenance requirements. Georgia is an equitable distribution state. Any amount you earn during your marriage becomes shared property between both spouses.
In other words, even if one spouse owned the house prior to marriage, if both spouses contributed toward paying for it or maintaining it during the marriage, it may still be marital property subject to division. Asset division is an unpredictable area of law, with the courts having the authority to take what steps they believe are necessary for a fair and equitable outcome.
Generally speaking, half of the equity from the marriage should be yours
While there are many factors, ranging from income discrepancy to the length of the marriage, that will impact how the courts divide your assets, they typically try to be as fair and even as possible. It is reasonable to hope for half of the equity in the home established during the marriage.
However, other factors can influence how the courts value and divide your assets. The best way to predict the likely outcome in your case is to speak at length with a Georgia family law attorney who understands how the courts typically handle houses and other major assets.