TomorrowMakers

Who has rights over your property after a divorce? Here’s what you must know.

Divorce: Who has rights to the property?

A divorce is a life-changing event for everyone involved, from the spouses to their children. It can be tough emotionally and mentally to move on. That aside, a divorce also has long-term financial consequences that need to be taken care of. 

On separation, there is a division of assets, payment of alimony, maintenance expenses, and many other financial aspects that need to be settled. One of the major questions during the divorce is that of the status of the house.

What does one do with the house after a divorce?

According to the latest report by the law panel, all property acquired after marriage, of either spouse, should be treated as a unit between the couple. Also, any inherited property will not be included in this division but its value can be taken into account by the court for determining maintenance and alimony.

The report also stated that this principle doesn’t translate into an equal share in the property after divorce; that decision is subjective and at the discretion of courts.

When it comes to dividing the house, the situation can be dealt with in different ways:

1. Title held by husband

If the house was bought by the husband before marriage or inherited by him, the wife is not entitled to any share in the property. Further, if the house was bought after marriage and is held in the name of the husband, the wife is not entitled to any share of that property after divorce. If, after marriage, the wife contributed to buying the house but the title was held by the husband, she would have to prove the same in court to claim her share in the property.

Current law scenario states that the ownership of property is with the one who holds the title of the same.

2. Title held by wife

As per the current laws, the wife continues to own the house if she holds the title. Men often buy property but register it in their wives’ names to avail of benefits such as lower registration fees. To claim a share in such property, the husband will have to prove that he bought the house; failing to do so will lead to retaining of ownership by the wife. 

3. Joint ownership

Joint ownership refers to a scenario where husband and wife co-own a property. Divorce leads to division of such joint property. There are various ways to do it because property is often bought against a loan that is repaid by both partners. The most common way of dividing joint property is by considering individual equity. With the help of a professional financial advisor, individual stakes can be calculated after taking into account the market value of the property.

Here are some of the ways in which one can deal with jointly owned property:

  • Negotiate buyout – One can negotiate to buy out the other’s share if he or she wants to keep the property. This can be done by calculating the share of the other person on the basis of market value and reimbursing them for the same. It is imperative to put down such changes on paper and make sure the title has been transferred. Naturally, both partners must agree to the terms of the buyout. 
  • Sell the property – Getting both partners on the same page for a buyout can often be difficult. Although it works smoothly in some cases, there could be situations where the partners do not agree to the terms. In such situations, selling the property is the best option. The proceeds can be divided on the basis of individual equity. However, before dividing the proceeds, all outstanding loans related to the property should be paid off.
  • Continue co-ownership – The couple may decide to be mature about the divorce and agree on continuing the joint ownership on the property. There are many long-term advantages of this, such as minimal tax implications and appreciation in the value of the property. The only thing that needs to be taken care of is the specification of liabilities and claims in an agreement.

Conclusion

There are various options when it comes to deciding on the fate of your house after a divorce. The selection and smoothness of transaction depend largely on the couple and their equation with each other – and the advice of the financial advisor and professionals involved.

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