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Understanding home ownership and property rights in a divorce

There are many contentious issues that can arise during a divorce. However, when it comes to property rights, the family home is often at the centre of most battles. While some divorcing couples in Alberta choose to simply sell the home and part ways, others may choose to keep it. Deciding who will retain ownership of the home if it is not sold can be tricky business.

Why might someone want to retain a family home in a divorce? One might be for the sake of the children; if one parent is retaining custody, that parent may wish to care for the children in the original family home to avoid disruption. Emotional attachment to the home, investment potential, or even pride can also impact the decision. In any case, either party in a divorce does have a right to pursue sole ownership of the home.

There are a few things that need to be understood before staking such a claim. The first is the value of the house. The second is the ability of the potential sole owner to pay for the house, including possibly buying out the ex's share of the property. Other marital assets can be a factor here; for example, the spouse without the house can get vehicles, jewellery or financial accounts to allow for an even split.

Legally, Alberta couples looking to stay in their home will need to contend with the fact that both parties have property rights when it comes to the family home. Solutions can be found in certain cases, but it depends a great deal on the value of the home and other assets involved. Speaking with an Alberta lawyer is a good first step to understanding one's options when it comes to property division in a divorce.

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