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Options for dividing the family home in divorce

Individuals in California who are divorcing might be concerned about keeping their family home. If they go before a judge for property division, they might not be happy with the outcome. A judge might force the sale of the home and have the couple split the proceeds.

If the divorcing couple has children, the court will likely award the property to the custodial parent on the basis that it is in the kids' best interest to not go through the upheaval of moving to a new home. However, this will only be done if it appears that the parent can afford the home. It is important to keep in mind that a mortgage and upkeep can be costly. Divorcing individuals should remember this if they are tempted to exchange their share of a retirement account for the other spouse's share of the house. Financial experts often advise against this because of the costs of owning and maintaining the home. A judge may also consider whether the house was inherited or has been in the family of one spouse for a long time.

Because of the lack of control they will have over a judge's decision, couples might prefer to negotiate their own property division. They might also continue to alternate sharing the family home while the children live there full time.

In addition to the emotional turmoil of a divorce, people may worry about their children and their finances. In some cases, they might be tempted to agree to unfavorable terms because they want the divorce to be over with as quickly as possible. People should resist the temptation to do this because it could be financially disastrous in the long term.

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