Who Gets the Vacation House After a Divorce?

May 10, 2023
By Alternative Divorce Solutions

How Additional Properties Are Divided in California Divorces

It’s becoming increasingly common for families to buy additional real estate in their favorite vacation spots. With each extra plot of land, however, comes another asset to be divided in divorce. The future of the home will depend on how the property was acquired and whether there are any prenuptial or postnuptial agreements in place.

Letting the Judge Decide

If a couple is unable or unwilling to reach an agreement independently, a judge will order the final verdict in keeping with the state’s community property guidelines. The court will have to determine whether the house qualifies as:

  • Community property: acquired by either or both spouses during the marriage
  • Separate property: acquired by one spouse before the marriage, or something inherited or gifted to only one spouse during the marriage
  • Mixed property: separate property that, upon marriage, both spouses contributed to through payments and maintenance work

Community property is typically divided evenly, while separate property remains in the possession of its original owner. If property becomes mixed, a portion of the property’s value is subject to division between the spouses.

In the event that a vacation home is deemed community property, the couple may elect to sell the home and split the profit. Alternatively, one party could buy out the other’s stakes in the home if they wish to keep it.

Reaching a Decision in a Marital Agreement

Couples may take the time either before or after their wedding ceremony to craft a marital agreement in which they outline the terms for asset division in the event of death or divorce. So long as the agreement is not found to be unreasonably one-sided, a judge will typically accept and enforce their decisions. Therefore, couples can use the document as a place to assert their wishes for the future of their vacation getaway spot.

Reaching an Agreement in Mediation

Asset division is not automatically left up to the discretion of the court. Couples retain the right to collaborate on how they’ll redistribute their money, real estate, investments, and debts in divorce mediation. Once reaching an agreement, the decision can be submitted to the judge for approval.

Ultimately, if you and your spouse are on good terms, you have options available to you in which you can decide the fate of your vacation properties. For assistance doing so, contact Alternative Divorce Solutions.


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