Property disputes are common in California divorces. This is especially true when the family home is at the center of the disagreement. Since these properties can have enormous value and be costly to maintain, it is often preferable to sell it so the proceeds can be distributed equitably among the parties.
However, children could be a factor in the decision to sell or retain the property. The custodial parent might want to keep the property, at least until the child is old enough to have effectively adapted to the new family situation. This is when the law for deferring the sale of the property should be considered.
Is it possible to defer the sale of the marital home?
The custodial parent can ask that the sale of the family home be deferred. The primary objective is to smooth the transition for the child and limit the upheaval they will face after the parents have split.
The first thing the court will look at is the economic feasibility of retaining the home. If, for example, there is a large amount left on the mortgage and it will create an undue burden for the parents, it might decline the request. That assessment will also include insurance, property taxes, maintenance, repairs and more.
Other factors will be the custodial parent’s income; spousal support, child support or both; and other ways in which the payments to keep and maintain the home will be made. As part of the determination, the court will want to avoid default and foreclosure; not having sufficient insurance coverage; deterioration of the property; and other issues that could negatively impact the home’s equity.
Next, the court will decide if it is necessary to allow the deferred sale to limit the disruption for the child. It weighs how long the child has lived in the home; what grade they are in; the location of the home to facilities the child will use; if there were modifications for the child or parent based on disabilities; how a move might impact the child emotionally; the location of the home relevant to a parent’s employment; the financial capabilities of the parents to find housing; taxes; economic consequences; and other key factors.
To defer the sale of a home, having professional advice may be necessary
The family home and how it is handled in a divorce case can be the cause of disagreement. When a parent wants to keep the property at least until the child is older, it can be done if the circumstances warrant it. Whether it is viewed from the perspective of the custodial or noncustodial parent, it is useful to have experienced professionals try and find a workable solution.