Generally when a couple is getting a divorce, the most valuable asset is the home. The court will take into account the length of the marriage, any prior marriages, age, health, occupation, etc. when determining how to split up marital assets, including the home. One main factor when determining who gets awarded the home is consideration for any minor children involved. If one party is considered the primary caregiver of the minor children, that party will most likely be awarded the home to provide as little disruption to the minor children’s lives as possible. Another important factor that is taken into account is any non-marital interest a party has in the home. A non-marital interest can come in the form of inheritance that a party used for down payment, ownership in the home prior to marriage, etc.
Once it is decided which party will be awarded the home, the court must consider what will be an equal division of property, including the house. Pursuant to Minn. Stat. § 518.58 the court will ensure “just and equitable division of the marital property of the parties without regard to marital conduct”. If the home has significant equity, and the home is awarded to one spouse, then a property equalizer payment is required. The property equalizer payment can be made in payments, refinance of the home, use of retirement funds to make the payment, etc. If neither spouse can afford to make the property equalizer payment, and there is not sufficient property/assets to provide the equalization for the equity in the home, then the parties may sell the home and equally divide the net profit. Each case has its own specific details that will alter the outcome of property division and an award of the marital home, which is why consulting with an attorney before any final decisions are made is important.