The decision about who stays in the family home after a divorce is often complicated by emotional and financial considerations. The couple must come to a decision that allows both parties to move forward in an independent household while providing for any children they may have.

Review these considerations when dividing real estate in a Pennsylvania divorce.

Valuing the home

The family should get an appraisal if they have not had the home valued within the past few months. They should use this number to determine the amount of home equity. For example, if the appraised value is $300,000 and the mortgage balance is $100,000, the couple must share $200,000 in equity.

Negotiating a buyout

If one spouse feels strongly about staying in the home, he or she can “buy out” the other spouse. The spouse keeping the home would refinance the home in his or her own name and pay the other spouse his or her share of equity ($100,000 in the above example). The couple may also agree to share the mortgage and have one parent remain in the home until their children grow up and become independent.

Selling the property

If neither spouse wants or can afford to maintain the home independently, they often decide to sell and split the proceeds. In Pennsylvania, an equitable division state, the couple must divide these funds and other marital debts fairly.

Sometimes, a prenuptial agreement governs the fate of the home in a divorce. Pennsylvania will abide by such a document if it is valid under state law.