To sell or keep the family home when Calgary couples separate

This article addresses the disposition of the family home in a separation or divorce.

When most Calgary couples decide to spend their lives together, they look toward a future they expect to last for decades. As they settle into their life, they make a home together that they might envision filled with children, the scene of numerous holiday celebrations and more.

As the years go by, the future may no longer look as bright as it once did. For whatever reason, the partners decide to go their separate ways. During the progression of the divorce proceedings, the parties will need to determine what happens to the family home in which they once thought they would grow old together. One of the largest assets that most Calgary couples own is the family home. The disposition of this asset may not be as easy a task as the parties believe.

How ownership of the home plays a role

Married couples ordinarily own a home together, which means each spouse has an equal right to remain in it or sell it. Under normal circumstances, one spouse cannot mortgage, sell or rent the family home without the express permission of the other, which can complicate matters in the absence of an agreement between the parties. This means that one spouse needs to obtain a court order allowing him or her to take action without that agreement.

The process changes slightly for a common-law couple. If only one person's name is on the title to the home, that person has the right to keep it. If purchased together, either one party buys out the other to remain in the home or the parties sell it and split the proceeds. Whether a couple is married or in a common-law relationship, wanting to sell the property requires careful consideration of all of the potential financial ramifications before coming to this decision.

Is keeping the family home even possible?

To own the home outright, the party not remaining in the home needs to be removed from the title and paid for his or her portion of this asset. Most people do not have the substantial amount of funds needed to buy out the other party readily available. Moreover, most homeowners have mortgage loans to consider. This means that in order to keep the home, the spouse wanting to remain in it will need to address that loan.

The lender will need to agree to release the other spouse from responsibility for the repayment of the mortgage loan. Most lenders will only do so if the one keeping the home can qualify for a new loan without the income of the other. When applying for a new mortgage loan, a lender will probably require the following documentation regarding the divorce, if available, along with the other ordinary documentation required when applying for a mortgage loan:

· The amount of any spousal support payments

· A copy of the separation agreement (if there is one)

· The amount of any child support payments

Some people need a co-signer or a joint applicant in order to qualify. Many people do not realise what goes into keeping the family home after a divorce or separation. Making the decision to keep the home should only happen after thoroughly reviewing the totality of the circumstances. A lawyer with experience in family law matters could prove invaluable in assisting individuals attempting to make such a choice.