Wail Sarieh

Who Gets The House In A Divorce in Orange County?


We all know how contentious divorce can be in California. Especially in Orange County, where there is so much on the line as far as the family home is concerned. In most cases, one of the main items that hold up the proceedings, as well as bring out the worst in both parties, is ‘who gets to keep the house?’

To logically make a decision on this matter, there are quite a number of things that need to be taken into account. It is more than simply finding out which spouse wants it the most. It is about looking at the financial responsibilities as well as capabilities of both parties.

Does having your name listed on the title matter?

The family home is a visible, valuable and rather emotional asset. When there are children involved the issue of continuity and convenience for them comes into play. Which, kind of ties into the custody battle because in many cases, whoever gets the kids the most has a stronger case for keeping the house as well. But it is not as clear cut as that because financial capabilities come into question.

There are, however, some divorce proceedings where a clear case cannot be made for one spouse keeping the house because of convenience or emotional attachment. Let’s face it, some people just want the house out of spite, vindictiveness and just so the other spouse can’t have it.

When it comes to the issue of having only one name on the title, the fact that your name is the one listed doesn’t necessarily make it a slam-dunk case for you to keep the house. In California, like in most of the country, couples do this mostly due to credit issues. Sometimes, it is just easier and more reasonable to use the name of whichever couple has the best credit rating. Therefore, California divorce law does not give the title bearer that much weight.

Can You Sell the House During Your Divorce?

In some cases, you will find that it is much easier to just sell the house and be done with it. But to prevent this from happening and having one party short-changed, especially the one whose name isn’t in the title, California law does not allow for this kind of sale to take place. You need the court’s approval to put the marital home on sale.

So, Who Gets the House?

It is not as clear cut. The marital home, just like every other asset and debt, is up for negotiation. Both lawyers will look at the financial implications that come with keeping the house and gauge each spouse’s capabilities of dealing with those consequences and then come to an amicable agreement. There are no rules, guidelines or givens. What you need to remember is that should you get to keep the house, you should be prepared to give up something else that has great value to both parties. It is a negotiation.

Wail Sarieh
By Wail Sarieh