One of the most valuable matrimonial assets in Rhode Island is the family home. There is often no clear-cut and straightforward answer to who gets the house. The judge takes into account several factors before making this decision. Nonetheless, here’s how you can deal with the family home in a divorce.
Rhode Island is an equitable distribution divorce state. This means the judge will split the family home and all your other marital property in a way that is fair. But first, the court will need to know what separately belongs to you and what is marital.
If you bought the house before the wedding and your spouse does nothing at all to the house for all the time you were together, the house will be yours. But if they used their money in repairs, maintenance, and any other improvements, then the house can become marital as a result of commingling according to § 15-5-16.1. Assignment of property.
Who gets the house?
It’s common for the judge to award the parent with the primary child custody the marital home after the divorce. They do this because the judge wants the kids to stay and grow up in the same place they’ve known their whole lives.
But, they will also consider other factors such as:
- Each spouse’s employability, job skills, and financial circumstances
- The marital misconduct of either spouse
- Source of funds for marital home or their contributions to it
- The age, physical and mental health of each spouse
How to deal with the family home
- Buy the house from your ex – If you really want to keep the house, you can choose to buy out your spouse before the divorce settlement is finalized.
- Sell the house and share the proceeds – This is a common option for most couples that want to start their life anew after divorce somewhere else.
- Continue owning part of the house while the other spouse lives in it – This can be a good option for couples with kids.
What you do with your house depends mainly on your interest in it. But the judge’s decision also plays a vital role in who is going to end up with the family home. It can be more advantageous if you can work together with your ex to figure out how to deal with the house outside the court.