Does physical custody of children affect who gets the family house?

On Behalf of | May 19, 2023 | Family Law

Each divorce case is unique, but one thing they all have in common is how challenging they can be. This is almost always true when children are involved in the process. Whether divorcing spouses decide to settle amicably or have the court decide for them, children play an important role in the decision-making. This includes deciding who gets to keep the family home.

Who gets to keep the house?

Courts can award the marital house to the spouse with primary physical custody of the children. While no rule to this end has been set, the likelihood is high. The reason is that courts prioritize the child’s best interests and if that means for them to stay in the matrimonial home, the courts will award the home to the parent physically responsible for the child.

However, this is not always the case. Courts consider several factors when deciding how to equitably distribute marital properties. In Minnesota, judges consider relevant factors including the following:

  • The duration of the marriage
  • Each spouse’s age and health condition
  • Each spouse’s occupation, income, capacity and opportunities to earn
  • Each spouse’s contribution to the marital assets and homemaking
  • Any record of a previous marriage

Some other factors, however, affect property division and drive the court not to award the marital home to either parent. For instance, if the parent holding primary physical custody cannot afford to pay the remaining mortgage or cover the bills in the long run, the court may find an alternative to better suit the situation, like selling the house instead and splitting the proceeds between spouses.

Many factors come into play in a divorce. Understanding the court’s decision-making process can help parties ensure that their rights to marital asset shares are protected.