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Montgomery County Real Estate and Divorce Lawyer

Legal Help with Real Estate Division

One of the most complicated parts of divorce is dividing property that has been accumulated during the marriage. Real estate division can be a grueling process, especially for couples who have high net worth. Our legal team at the Law Offices of Sheryl R. Rentz, P.C., has over 25 years of experience in complex divorce. Our lawyers also specialize in high-asset property division, child custody, and prenuptial agreements. We always put the needs of our clients first and handle each case professionally. If you have questions, please call our office at (866) 290-9292 to set up a free consultation.

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Who Gets What in a Divorce?

A lot of factors go into deciding who gets what. Pennsylvania is an equitable distribution state, which means property will be divided by standards that the court considers "fair" and not evenly. Be sure to educate yourself, so you will be prepared to fight for what’s more important to you. Common factors that a judge will consider before dividing property are:

  • Duration of the marriage
  • Age and physical/mental health of each spouse
  • Economic circumstances of each spouse
  • Sources of income/potential earnings of each spouse
  • Earning power of each spouse
  • Contributions from one spouse to the other (example: if wife paid for husband’s education or training)
  • Benefits and insurance policies of each spouse
  • Value of assets and other marital property
  • Contributions of one spouse as a homemaker, if applicable
  • Standard of living established during the marriage
  • Tax consequences for distribution of assets
  • Child custody

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Dividing the Family Home

The family home is usually the most fought-over possession in a divorce. If there are children involved, the judge will usually award the family home to whichever parent is awarded primary custody. The Pennsylvania family courts do not want children to be uprooted from their normal routine if it can be avoided.

If there are no children and the home was purchased during the marriage, the courts will use equitable distribution to either award it to one spouse or have it sold and divide the proceeds.

If the home was purchased prior to marriage, the purchaser will probably be awarded the home and the other spouse would have to vacate. However, neither spouse has the right to kick the other out of the home until it is decided by the court. If you have been wrongfully evicted from your home, you can take legal action.

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Dividing Real Estate

Other real estate holdings, such as vacation homes, timeshares, and rental property, would be divided based on equitable distribution. It is helpful for you to let your attorney know which properties you are more adamant about keeping. Your lawyer will do her best to prove that you are more deserving of those properties. If there is a property that neither of you particularly want (for example, a timeshare), the judge may order the property sold and the proceeds divided, or given to one spouse in exchange for the other person keeping another piece of property like a vacation home. There are many outcomes, and knowing your options and being prepared is the best way to go.

When planning a divorce, you need a lawyer with experience. At the Law Offices of Sheryl R. Rentz, P.C., our Montgomery County family law attorneys specialize in complex, high-asset property division, child custody, and contentious divorce. If you need assistance dividing your property, give our office a call at (866) 290-9292 for a free consultation.

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Q and A: Real Estate and Divorce

Q: Are real estate assets a factor in determining alimony?

A: In Illinois, the division of marital property is based on the concept of “equitable division.” Alimony payments are decided separately from the marital property division. The goal is to assist one spouse to continue to enjoy the lifestyle they had when married. Based on the income and earning power of each spouse, the court has the discretion to award alimony at a reasonable rate.

Q: Who gets to stay in the house during the divorce?

A: The issue of the family home can be in question in a divorce. Several factors will come into play in a court decision. As the marital property must be divided equitably, the calculations in value of any property, including the home, must be determined. Factors such as the increase in value of a home during the years of the marriage, even if it was originally by one spouse, will be considered marital property. The house may be sold, and the profits of the sale split between the two former spouses, or one could buy out the other. The bottom line is that either of the two parties may end up with the family home. These issues can be complicated to resolve, and typically require the assistance of a divorce attorney to negotiate a fair division of property.

Q: Can I get awarded the house if I have already moved out?

A: If you have moved out of the family home, you have not sacrificed your right to your fair share of the marital assets. While the court may award one party sole access to the home during a separation, when it comes to property division, that property is just one of the assets that must be divided.

Q: How do I decide if fighting to keep the house is the best financial decision I can make?

A: Considering your financial future is of critical importance when it comes to fighting for the family home in a divorce. If you have children, and have been the main caregiver of the children, you may be in a good position to keep the family home, as you are likely to be awarded both child support and alimony. The full scope of the financial impact of a divorce, including the ability to continue to pay a home mortgage, is a critical aspect of deciding whether to fight to keep the family home in a divorce. These negotiations can become complex, and to make the process work for you, you may offset the payoff of the home with some other asset, such as your fair portion of any retirement accounts. Work with an attorney who can help you make the best decision for your future financial health.

Q: Will I get to keep the house if I don't have primary custody?

A: Marital property must be divided equitably in Pennsylvania, including the family home. If you owned the home yourself before the marriage, to retain the property may require you to pay half of any increase in value, which can be a significant amount, depending on the increase in home values in your area over time. Prior to the divorce being final, the other parent may be given sole access to the home, but when it comes to dividing the property, the home is just one of the assets that will be valued, and you may be able to keep the home, based on how the property split is negotiated, and particularly the skills of your legal representation. Q: What are the tax consequences of selling a principal residence?

Q: What are the tax consequences of selling a principal residence?

A: When it is decided that the principal residence should be sold in a divorce, you must be aware of any tax consequences. The increase in value of the property, when sold, will be taxed. The level of taxation is $250,000 for a sole owner, and $500,000 for couples who file jointly. It is well worth discussing these issues before putting the principal residence up for sale, as the two spouses may choose to file jointly for another year to gain the $500,000 exclusion. In other scenarios, such as when one spouse is awarded the family home, it may trigger tax consequences for that spouse. All these matters must be fully reviewed when making decisions on property division.

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