What Happens to the House in a Divorce?

One of the most common questions we get from clients is, “What happens to the house in a divorce?” There is often significant concern from one or both parties related to who will keep the house or what will happen to the house in the event of a divorce. This inquiry can be especially stressful in cases involving minor children where maintaining a residence in a particular school district may be important. The two most common resolutions to the question of “What happens to the house in a divorce?” are (1) one party keeps the house and buys out the other party’s interest or (2) the house is sold.

1. One Party Keeps the House:          

In many cases, one party will want to keep the house, and the other party will agree to move out, or in some cases, the parties are already living apart before the divorce is filed. If both parties’ names are on the mortgage, then typically the party keeping the house will need to refinance the mortgage to remove the other party within an agreed-upon or allotted period. If the house is equity, then the party keeping the house will need to “buy out” the other party’s interest in the equity. An appraisal helps parties determine if their house has equity and helps guide parties to figure out their respective equitable interest in the equity in the property to determine how much each party’s equity “buyout” would be worth.  “Buying out” the other party’s equity interest can be done several different ways, the most common methods being taking out cash from some of the equity in the house at the time of the refinance, or by offsetting the other party’s interest in the equity against other assets, or a combination of both. In cases where parties own more than one piece of real estate and are each keeping a property, the equities in each property can also offset against each other as a buyout or partial buyout of each party’s interest therein. What each party’s interest in a property is can vary from case to case.

If the parties cannot agree on who will keep the house, then the court can decide which party will be awarded the house, or the court can order that the house be sold and the net proceeds from sale be divided between the parties. 

2. The House is Sold:

If neither party wants to keep the house or if neither party can afford to keep the house, then the house will be listed for sale and the parties will divide the net proceeds from the sale.

Typically, the details of how a realtor is selected, the listing price for the sale of the house, the cooperation of the parties with respect to the sale, and what happens to the net proceeds are either agreed upon by the parties, negotiated between the attorneys, or ordered by the court if the parties are unable to agree between themselves or through their attorneys. Net proceeds are typically “what’s left over” from the sale proceeds after payment of standard categories such as the mortgage, real estate taxes, realtor commissions, title fees, and other closing costs.

How the net proceeds from the sale are divided between the parties varies from case to case, for example, in some cases, each party may receive an equal share of the net proceeds, while in other cases there may be a reason why one party might receive more of the net proceeds than the other party. There are also cases where the net proceeds are used to pay off marital debts before they are divided between the parties.

There are also cases where the mortgage on the house is greater than the house’s value.  This is what is referred to as the house being “under water.” There are also cases where the sale proceeds from the house are insufficient to cover all the closing costs. In each case, there will be money due from the marital estate at closing. How the parties will pay the monies owed can be agreed upon between the parties, negotiated through their attorneys, or ordered by the court if the parties are unable to agree between themselves or through their attorneys.

For guidance figuring out which option is right for you, please contact Cooper Trachtenberg Law Group, LLC at. 847-995-8800 or mcooperlaw.com for a free 30-minute consultation.

Family Feuds to Harmony: 5 Enlightening Mediation Hacks for Domestic Legal Conundrums

Mediation has become an increasingly popular method of dispute resolution in family law cases. This alternative to traditional litigation offers several benefits, including reduced costs, privacy, and the opportunity for both parties to have more control over the outcome of their case. To make the most of mediation, it’s important to approach the process with the right mindset and preparation.

The key to success in family law mediation lies in careful preparation, effective communication, and a willingness to compromise. By following a few essential tips, participants can enhance their chances of reaching a mutually beneficial resolution. It is crucial for the individuals involved to enter the process with an open mind, focus on the underlying interests at stake, and practice active listening.

In the following article, we will discuss five specific tips that can help parties achieve a positive outcome in mediation. These tips, along with the support of experienced professionals such as mediators and legal counsel, can contribute to a smoother, more efficient process and lead to a satisfactory resolution for everyone involved.

Useful Tips for Using Mediation in Family Law Cases

  • Prepare for the Mediation Session

It is crucial to properly prepare for the mediation session. This involves gathering relevant documentation, such as financial records and parenting plans, as well as outlining your desired outcomes in the family law dispute. Create a list of your concerns and expectations, which can help guide the discussion and aid in reaching a resolution. Working with a law firm experienced in mediation services can support your preparation efforts and ensure a smoother process.

  • Stay Calm and Maintain an Open Mind

Maintaining a calm and open-minded attitude during mediation sessions is essential for successful outcomes. Keep in mind that the objective of family law mediation is to reach a fair and mutually agreed-upon solution to disputes involving child custody or property division. Being open to considering the other parent’s perspective and finding common ground can significantly improve the chances of reaching an agreement, reducing the potential for court intervention.

  • Discuss and Prioritize Child’s Interests

When dealing with custody mediation, it is vital to focus on the child’s best interests. This includes discussing the child’s needs, current and future well-being, and overall family dynamics. Both parents should be willing to collaboratively explore various custody arrangements that prioritize the child’s welfare, making compromises when necessary to ensure a stable and nurturing environment for their development.

  • Be Open to Settlement Offers and Compromise

An essential aspect of family law mediation is the willingness of both parties to make concessions and reach a fair settlement. This involves being flexible and open-minded when evaluating resolutions. Private mediation allows for creative solutions that may not be available in traditional court litigation, offering parents the opportunity to find an agreement that uniquely meets the needs of their family.

  • Work with Qualified Professionals

Partnering with experienced professionals, such as mediators or specialized family law attorneys, can significantly improve the likelihood of a successful mediation outcome. These professionals have the skills and knowledge to guide parents through mediation sessions, providing valuable advice, clarifying legal issues, and helping to draft enforceable agreements. Their expertise can ease the mediation process and ensure that both parties adhere to legal obligations and best practices.

By incorporating these tips into family law mediation cases, it is possible to reach a fair resolution while minimizing the emotional and financial toll often associated with traditional court proceedings.

Understanding the Mediation Process

Alternative Dispute Resolution

Mediation is a form of alternative dispute resolution (ADR) that aims to resolve disputes outside of court by facilitating negotiations and promoting understanding between conflicting parties. In family law cases, mediation can be particularly beneficial for parties seeking to navigate issues such as divorce, child custody, and property division without resorting to litigation. The purpose of family mediation is to help both parties identify their needs and interests and explore solutions that address these concerns in a more collaborative and flexible manner than traditional court proceedings.

The Role of a Mediator

A mediator is a neutral third party who guides the negotiation process by assisting the parties in communication, identifying their interests, generating options, and reaching a mutually acceptable agreement. Mediators do not impose decisions, but rather facilitate constructive dialogue between the parties to ensure they develop a resolution that is satisfactory to everyone involved. It is important for parties to choose a mediator with appropriate training and experience in family law disputes, as this can significantly influence the effectiveness of the mediation process. The mediator can be a certified professional, an attorney experienced in mediation, or a seasoned family law expert.

How Mediation Differs from Court Proceedings

Unlike court proceedings, where a judge makes the final decision on a case, mediation allows the parties to have greater control over the outcome. Here are some distinctions between mediation and court proceedings:

  • Control: In mediation, parties actively participate in the negotiation process and have the opportunity to design their own agreements, whereas, in court, a judge has the authority to make binding decisions that may not meet the needs of all parties involved.
  • Confidentiality: Mediation is confidential, meaning discussions and negotiations remain private and are not disclosed in any public record. Conversely, court proceedings are typically open to the public, and court documents become part of the public record.
  • Flexibility: Mediation can offer flexible scheduling, allowing parties to choose convenient dates and times to meet with their mediator, whereas court proceedings follow a strict schedule determined by the court system.
  • Cost: Mediation can be less expensive than going to court, as parties can avoid legal fees and court costs associated with litigation. Additionally, mediation tends to be faster than a court trial, which can further reduce costs.

In summary, the mediation process in family law cases offers an alternative dispute resolution method that focuses on communication, flexibility, and collaboration between parties. By involving a skilled mediator to facilitate discussions and explore possible solutions, parties can often reach agreements that more effectively address their concerns and needs than traditional court proceedings.

Types of Family Law Mediation

Types of Family Law Mediation

Family law mediation is a valuable tool for resolving various family-related disputes. In this section, we will discuss three types of family law mediation: Divorce Mediation, Child Custody Mediation, and Child Support Mediation.

  • Divorce Mediation

Divorce mediation is an alternative dispute resolution process wherein a neutral third party, often a qualified mediator, helps spouses reach an agreement on various aspects of their divorce. This process can cover issues such as property division, spousal support, and, if applicable, child custody and support.

In divorce mediation, the mediator encourages the parties to explore their deeper interests and work towards a mutually acceptable resolution. By facilitating open communication and focusing on interests rather than positions, the mediator assists the couple in finding common ground.

  • Child Custody Mediation

Child custody mediation focuses on resolving custody disputes and determining the best interests of the child. The mediator assists the parties in reaching an agreement on matters such as:

  • Physical custody: where the child will live.
  • Legal custody: which parent will make important decisions for the child.
  • Parenting time: how the child’s time will be divided between the parents.
  • Work schedules: how the parents’ work schedules will impact their parenting time.

The primary goal of child custody mediation is to create a stable and nurturing environment for the child while minimizing conflicts between the parents. This approach encourages cooperation and reduces the emotional toll on all parties involved.

  • Child Support Mediation

Child support mediation is designed to resolve disagreements on the financial support parents are required to provide for their children. Issues such as the amount of child support, the duration of payments, and adjustments to existing arrangements can be addressed in this type of mediation.

During child support mediation, the mediator helps the parents communicate their needs and concerns while striving to reach a fair and equitable agreement. This process can be particularly helpful in cases where there is a change in circumstances, such as a parent’s loss of employment or increased expenses related to the child’s needs.

Preparing for Mediation Sessions

Gathering Relevant Documents

Before attending mediation sessions, it is important for both parties to gather all relevant documents pertaining to their case. This may include financial records, property deeds, or any other documentation that relates to the issues needing resolution. Organize these documents in a logical manner, ensuring that they are easily accessible during the mediation process.

Creating a Parenting Plan

When mediation involves matters related to children, drafting a preliminary parenting plan can help make the process more efficient. A parenting plan outlines the proposed custody and parenting time arrangements for the children involved. Some factors to consider while creating a parenting plan may include:

  • Where the children will live
  • The schedule for parenting time
  • How the parents will share decision-making responsibilities

It is a good idea for each parent to develop a proposed parenting plan separately before discussing and comparing their proposals during the mediation session.

Consulting with a Lawyer

Before engaging in mediation, consider consulting with a lawyer who can provide guidance and legal advice related to your specific family law case. A lawyer can help you:

  • Understand your rights and obligations under the law.
  • Identify the core issues that need resolution in your case.
  • Prepare you for potential outcomes and compromises that may arise during mediation.

By consulting with a lawyer, you will be better informed and prepared to participate in a productive family law mediation session.

Benefits of Mediation in Family Law Cases

More Control over the Outcome

In family law cases, mediation allows the parties involved to have more control over the outcome of their disputes compared to traditional litigation. A family mediator helps the divorcing spouses or other parties involved to communicate effectively and reach a mutually agreeable settlement. This process allows the participants to make decisions that best suit their family’s unique needs, instead of relying on a judge to determine the outcome. Participants can address essential aspects of their marriage, such as child custody, property division, and financial arrangements.

Reduced Emotional and Financial Stress

Family law mediation often leads to reduced emotional and financial stress for both parties. Traditional litigation can be lengthy, expensive, and emotionally draining. In contrast, mediation can be a quicker and more cost-effective means of resolving disputes. Divorcing spouses typically find that they can reach a settlement more efficiently, which saves both time and money. The cooperative nature of mediation also helps to maintain a more positive atmosphere, reducing emotional stress during an already challenging time in their lives.

Improved Communication and Cooperation

Mediation promotes open communication and cooperation between the parties involved. This approach is particularly beneficial in family law cases, as it encourages divorcing spouses and other parties to work together to achieve a satisfactory outcome for everyone involved. Improved communication during the mediation process can lead to better long-term relationships, critical for the child’s life and ongoing family dynamics. Furthermore, successful mediation can help parties avoid the adversarial nature of courtroom battles, preserve relationships, and promote a more constructive approach for future interactions.

Contact the Experienced professionals at Cooper Trachtenberg Law Group, LLC

Contact the Experienced professionals at Cooper Trachtenberg Law Group, LLC

Are you currently navigating the turbulent waters of divorce or other complex family law matters? You don’t have to go through it alone.

The Cooper Trachtenberg Law Group, LLC in Chicago is your experienced partner to guide you through every twist and turn of these challenging times. Our team of seasoned family law attorneys is committed to advocating for your interests and rights. We understand the emotional strain that divorce can bring, and our mission is to help you transition through this phase with the utmost dignity and respect.

At the Cooper Trachtenberg Law Group, LLC Illinois Attorney-Mediators, we believe in communication, compassion, and collaboration. We provide personalized legal strategies tailored to your unique situation and designed to achieve the best possible outcomes. Our team will be with you every step of the way, providing expert guidance, support, and reassurance.

Don’t let your family law matter become an insurmountable challenge. Let our experienced attorneys help you divorce with dignity and provide the clarity and peace of mind you need during this difficult time. Take the first step towards reclaiming your peace of mind. Reach out to us today.

Contact Cooper Trachtenberg Law Group, LLC now at 847-995-8800 or visit our support page at https://www.mcooperlaw.com/contacts to schedule a consultation. Let’s chart a path forward together. Secure your future with Cooper Trachtenberg Law Group, LLC – Chicago’s trusted partner in family law.


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