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What to do with home equity in divorce?

If you are a Texas resident who is divorcing and who is also a homeowner, one of your major challenges may be determining what to do with the family home. As Texas is one of the few states that follow a community property regime, this is especially important, as each spouse is entitled to receive 50% of the total assets — as well as sharing the debts.

The first order of business is to have the property appraised. This can be done either by agreeing to share the costs of an independent appraiser, or in less amicable splits, having each spouse hire their own appraiser. That's the only way to asses the property's true value.

Below are some suggestions for dividing the equity in your home.

Split the proceeds after it's sold

If you're looking to make a clean break, this might be the best option. Put the house on the market, and when it sells, split the equity.

Refinance the home in one spouse's name only

You may be able to arrange to buy your spouse out for their share of the family home or use this as a bargaining chip when dividing other assets or debts.

Do nothing and retain the house in both spouses' names

If you are concerned with disrupting your minor children's lives as little as possible, this might be a good solution. You could then each transition in and out of the house during your time with the kids. This option is referred to as bird's nest parenting.

This is also a viable option when the real estate market is shaky or the property is underwater on the mortgage.

Devise the best plan for your situation

Keep in mind that there is no one-size-fits-all solution to dividing the community property in a divorce. Each couple faces their own challenges when striving to reach accord on the community property settlement. It is often quite helpful to get creative and think outside of the box to arrive at the optimum solution.

By working closely with your South Texas family law attorney, you can share your concerns and hoped-for outcomes to walk away from your divorce best poised for future successes.

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