For someone going through divorce, the family home usually means more than its market value or whether it is community property under California law. If they lived there long enough with their former spouse and children, the house contains a lot of memories, many of them good. The house can also represent a higher standard of living that one spouse fears they will not be able to maintain on their own once the divorce is final, even with a sizeable property settlement and, possibly, assistance from spousal support.
Whether it is for sentimental or other reasons, divorcing couples often fight over the family home as well as other real estate like vacation homes and investment properties like apartments and commercial buildings. Disagreement over whether one spouse gets to keep a piece of real property for themselves can be a major sticking point in settlement negotiations. The sides might have to go to court to have the judge decide.
Singer’s divorce battle over a ranch
Singer and talk show host Kelly Clarkson’s divorce is being drawn out in large part by a fight with her ex-husband over a ranch Clarkson owns in Montana. Despite her former husband’s claims that the ranch was marital property belonging to both of them, the judge ruled that under the terms of the couple’s prenuptial agreement, the ranch belonged to Clarkson solely (meaning if it were in California, the ranch would be treated as separate property).
That ruling came in October. But reports indicate that the ex-husband is still living on the ranch, claiming he is unable to afford a residence of his own until a different financial matter in the divorce is resolved. The judge overseeing the case has reportedly ruled in his favor, meaning Clarkson cannot take possession of the ranch for now.
Hopefully, your own divorce will not reach this level of conflict over real estate. But if it does, you will need firm legal representation to protect your financial interests.