Absent an agreement regarding the disposition of marital home1, which could range from the selling the house and agreeing on how to divide the net proceeds to one party buying the interest of the other party in the marital home at a certain price, the courts will order the sale of the marital home and determine how the proceeds should be divided between the parties. The courts, however, do not have the authority, and will not order either party to purchase the marital home from the other party.
Depending on whether you have minor children and your custody arrangement/order, the court can grant exclusive use and possession of the marital home for up to three years to a party that has sole or joint residential custody of the minor children.
You should therefore be mindful of this factor if you are at the cross roads of making a decision regarding residential custody of your minor children which if left to the courts is usually decided before deciding the equitable division of marital assets as part of your divorce case. Simply put, at earlier stages of your divorce and child custody case you may agree that your spouse should have sole or joint residential custody of your minor children without knowing that you are opening yourself up to having your spouse come back to court at later stages of your case to ask for exclusive use and possession of the marital home for up to three (3) years. In cases where the courts order exclusive use and possession of the marital home to a parent that has sole or joint residential custody of the minor children the court order will postponed sale of the marital home until the end of the exclusive use and possession period.
In deciding how to deal with the issue of the disposition of the marital home you should consider the custody arrangement and well-being of your children, if you have minor children, and also the net equity and value of the marital home. And you should keep in mind that the court is likely to order the sale of the marital home if you cannot reach an agreement with your divorcing spouse. Also, please keep in mind just because your spouse may have owned a house prior to marriage and/or if the deed is only in your spouse’s name does NOT mean that you have NO interest in that home. To the extent that marital income was used to pay the mortgage, there may a marital interest in that home and you have an interest in that marital share. For Maryland law on equitable division of marital assets see https://www.kamkarilaw.com/faqs/)
Depending on a number of factors these issues can become quite complicated even for novice attorneys. If you are considering separating from your spouse and/or obtaining a divorce you should carefully consider these issues at the outset of your case with an experienced Maryland divorce attorney; otherwise, you may find that you have made decisions without knowing their consequences and how they affect the rest of your case and/or finances. Feel free to contact me (301-309-9002; firstname.lastname@example.org) to make a wise decision that will best serve your minor children and your financial well-being if a divorce and/or child custody case is in the horizon for you.
1-For the purposes of this article “marital home” is defined as the home that was purchased during the parties’ marriage and was the parties’ living quarters during their marriage.