Utah, like most states in the nation, subscribes to the principle of equitable distribution in dividing marital assets. Equitable distribution, rather than dividing marital assets 50/50, attempts to divide them in a way that is fair and just given the circumstances. Various factors are taken into account when determining what constitutes an equitable distribution of marital property, including the length of the marriage, the financial resources of each spouse, the contributions of each to the marriage, and each spouse’s earning potential after the divorce.
Dividing liquid assets is relatively easy compared to dividing, say, the marital home. For many couples, selling the family home is not ideal from a financial perspective. In some cases, too, one or both parties want to remain in the home, and it can be a challenge to determine who will stay and who will go. In some cases, a spouse may wish to remain in the home, but is unable to do so. How is this all sorted out?
When both parties want to remain in the home, the question is usually whether either one can actually afford to do so. If neither can afford to do so, the home must be sold and the proceeds divided. Likewise, if both parties have the money, but neither party has enough assets to allow them to buy the other party out. If one party does have enough assets, they must then agree on a value for the home. If they ultimately cannot, they may have to have a trial to have the matter decided. Once a value for the home is agreed upon or determined at trial, the party who is keeping the home will then have the appropriate value added to his or her accounting for equitable distribution.
Obviously, spouses are not always able to come to an easy agreement on such matters. When they cannot, significant time and expenses may be spent in dealing with the dispute. There isn’t necessarily anything wrong with this, but it is something spouses should consider before engaging in an involved legal process to settle a dispute over the marital home.