Although the divorce rate seemed to be on the rise in recent years, it’s actually decreasing. This, however, doesn’t necessarily mean that people are breaking up less—especially unmarried couples. But what happens when you and your ex own property together? Who gets the home when an unmarried couple splits up?
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If you’re going through a breakup and own property with an ex-significant other, or you’re just looking for answers for your worst-case scenarios, here’s everything you need to know about what you’ll get and what to do.
Who Gets the Home When an Unmarried Couple Splits Up?
If you’ve broken up with a significant other and own property together, but you haven’t signed a joint house ownership agreement (which sets the intentions in the case of a breakup), you have two options. You can either follow the legal procedures for your state (which often means the property is sold and the net proceeds will be split equally), or you can reach an agreement on your own.
Before that, though, you need to determine each person’s individual share of the house. This can prove to be difficult if you haven’t signed an agreement.
If there are two names on the deed, this creates the assumption that the property was owned 50-50. If you or your ex is looking to claim a different percentage, then this has to be proven through an agreement (often in writing). If there have been renovations or improvements, compensation may be owned by one party to another.
In order to solve this, you may have to look into contracts for equal or unequal ownership or get the help of a real estate professional. You may also want to consider simply splitting the difference over negotiating over every payment.
If things can’t be resolved, here are your two options for selling property with an ex:
Option 1: Buy Out Your Ex
It’s generally cheaper for one party to sell the property to another. If this hasn’t been agreed upon beforehand, you need to negotiate how this will look. One party will have to fully buy out the other as a means to resolve.
If this can’t be settled amicably, the process might require mediation or arbitration.
Be sure to get a written document that specifies your entire agreement and payments, and have it reviewed by a real estate attorney. This will help to resolve disputes if they arise in the future.
Option 2: Jointly Sell Your House to a Neutral Third Party
If neither party wants the house, the best option is to sell the house to a neutral third party or company that will buy your home for cash (with a broker’s help). The broker can handle the issues of negotiation, splitting costs, and help to ease the tension between you two if and when it arises.
After the property is sold, proceeds will be divided equally (by percentage of ownership). When you sell to a third party, the disputed parts of the property and sale can also be put into an account that requires both signatures. This can be resolved through mediation or even arbitration if needed.
It’s also important for couples splitting up to divide all real estate. If the couple owns more than one home, for example, a vacation home, etc. then this needs to be divided and undergo the same process as the primary residence as well. Be sure that there is a written agreement for everything to ensure that disputes are handled appropriately.
How to Ensure an Amicable Property Split or Sale
In the end, the answer to the question, “Who gets the house when an unmarried couple splits up?” can be answered if you take the steps to determine your options and decisions beforehand. This means having a conversation well before the conflict arises so that you know how to act and what to do in the worst-case scenario.
Whether one party will buy the other out, the ex-couple will sell to a thirty party, or you’ll divide everything equally, it is possible to move on from one another without losing all your financial investments.
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