Birmingham Divorce & Property Division: Is the House an Asset or Albatross

Posted by Steven D. Eversole | Jul 17, 2012 | 0 Comments

Housing starts are up but so are foreclosures. Who's on first? 

While there are those trumpeting an improving economy, the fact of the matter is that foreclosure filings in Alabama jumped 22 percent in June in a year-over-year comparison. We reported the news on our Birmingham Bankruptcy Blog. Because Alabama Divorce Attorney Steven Eversole dedicates a significant portion of his practice to bankruptcy and criminal law, his divorce clients benefit from a more well-rounded approach.

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Let's face it, many couples are barely making it before a split, particularly given the rocky economy and the steady squeeze faced by the hard-working middle class. A bankruptcy fling as part of an Alabama divorce may truly provide the best opportunity for a fresh start. In other cases, a client may benefit from the criminal defense experience available at Eversole Law while dealing with child support issues or domestic violence allegations.

CNNMoney reports housing starts were up 6.9 percent in June. But it's those foreclosures we are most concerned about. Statewide, 1 in every 1,220 homes are in foreclosure. In Jefferson County, it's 1 in every 532, among the worst in the state.

Given the fact that their home has traditionally been a divorcing couple's primary asset, the current housing market can pose a challenge. This is particularly true now that it's become apparent the market is not going to rebound anytime soon. For those that bought near the apex of the boom, retirement may come before housing prices rebound enough to push them back into the black.

And as they say, or at least should have said, "Divorce can't wait forever."

A growing number of states, like California and New York, are "community property" states, meaning everything acquired during a marriage is divided 50/50. In theory. In reality, one party (often the one with the best legal counsel) routinely walks away with more than half the assets. Take the home, for instance. Is the value the purchase price or the current market value? And who decides the current market value?

Property division is a bit more complex in Alabama, which is considered an "equitable distribution" state. This means, if parties are unable to reach a settlement, the court will use a number of factors in reaching a decision.

And equitable means "fair," not necessarily "equal."

In today's housing market, what has historically been a couple's biggest asset, could well be their biggest liability. Who is assuming an upside down mortgage and paying on it for the next 20 or 30 years?

At the Eversole Law Firm, we use all of the tools at our disposal, across multiple legal disciplines, to make sure it won't be you.

Birmingham Family Law Attorney Steven Eversole can be reached at (866) 831-5292.

Additional Resources:

More signs of a housing rebound, By Les Christie, CNN Money, July 18, 2012.

About the Author

Steven D. Eversole

J.D., Samford University's Cumberland School of Law, Birmingham, Alabama B.A., University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa, Alabama


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