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Which spouse gets the house following a divorce?

It doesn't matter whether it's in Fairfax County, Virginia, or anywhere else in the United States, divorce is never easy. Whether it's determining child custody and support, alimony, or the split of marital property, the process can be daunting. And with the dissolution of marriage comes the inevitable fact that one or both of the spouses will no longer be living in their home together. So who gets the house? Before we answer that question, let's look at a few of the factors that go into property division.

Depending upon the state you live in, property division is either considered community property or is equitably distributed. Most states, including Virginia, follow equitable distribution. This means that a judge makes the determinations on what he or she deems is equitable, as opposed to a 50/50 split. How is this generally determined? In theory, this means that property settlement is dependent upon the earnings of each spouse during the course of marriage. Other factors are also under consideration as well, including who cared for the children, if applicable.

Now, back to the house. If children are involved, it is relatively easy. The parent who does most of the child-raising typically keeps the marital home. If children are not involved, various factors come into play.

One exception to this is if one spouse had purchased the home with separate funds.

If one spouse agrees to leave, the solution is simple. If neither agree, it is decided by the courts. Unless domestic violence is in the equation, one spouse cannot legally prevent the other from living in the home.

It is also important to note that some divorces get especially ugly, and there may be thoughts of falsely claiming domestic violence in an effort to get one spouse out. If you're caught wrongly accusing your ex of domestic abuse, you will be severely jeopardizing your own rights, and will be punished accordingly.

Source: Findlaw,"Divorce-property division- faq", accessed on March 17, 2015

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