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Your options for the family home during a breakup

Owning a home may be the dream of many in British Columbia. For couples in love, a home is a place they can make their own. They may plan for their home to be the place where they raise their families, welcome grandchildren and grow old together. These may have been your dreams, too. However, if your relationship is in trouble, the home where you live together may be another heavy task to deal with.

Whether you are married or living in a common-law relationship, you have many things to consider when that relationship ends. Among those is what to do with the house. While the solution may seem simple, it is important to understand all the financial and legal ramifications of any choice you make.

Joint property

If you and your partner bought the house together, it is joint property, and whatever you decide to do with it, your partner must agree. This includes selling or renting it to someone else. Remember that when you bought the home, you signed many papers, one of which was a mortgage loan contract. It may be wise to read over that contract and seek legal advice about whether you will be subject to prepayment penalties if you and your partner agree to sell the house.

On the other hand, perhaps one of you wants to remain in the family home. A parent who will have primary custody of the children often makes this choice. This could mean that one spouse will buy the other's share of the house. If you wish to do this, you may have to requalify for a new mortgage loan. This can be difficult since your financial situation may be very different after the divorce. You will also have to consider other expenses, such as:

  • Maintenance on the home
  • Utilities
  • Repairs and improvements
  • Property taxes
  • Insurance

It may not be wise to simply continue to own the property with your former spouse since you may not always be able to rely on your ex to pay his or her share of the expenses.

Ownership questions

If only one of you owned the home prior to your marriage, the court may decide that the other partner has no claim to the property. On the other hand, if you and your partner are not married and only one of your names is on the deed, your circumstances may be more complicated. In fact, any of these issues may create a complex situation for property division, and it is always a good idea to reach out for legal advice when your rights and future are in the balance.

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