At the height of love, many couples decide to buy a house together. The construction financing is usually tightly calculated: the monthly rate can only be put together. Only very few couples plan the possibility of separation and its consequences when signing the sales contract. This scenario is not that unlikely: every third marriage in Germany fails. That made more than 148,000 divorces in the past year alone.
When love ends, the ex-partners are not only faced with the challenge of dividing the common household items. You also need to decide what will happen to the property. Who can stay in it? Who is servicing the loan? Does whoever keep the house have to pay off the other?
Selling is often the simplest solution
The marriage is legally a community of gains if no other model has been agreed in the marriage contract. First of all, this means that each partner owns all goods and assets that he has acquired before and during the marriage. In the event of a divorce, however, the legislature prescribes a so-called gain compensation. If one partner has been able to build up a larger financial cushion than the other since they said yes, they have to give their ex half of the surplus. If the husband has made a profit of 100,000 euros, the partner is entitled to 50,000.
With a house, however, balancing is difficult, after all, you can’t just cut it in half. “Selling a shared property is often the simplest solution after a separation, because that way there is no dispute about further use,” says Jakob Cerbe, managing director of the real estate service provider McMakler for Austria.
What if a partner wants to stay in the house?
Selling has another advantage: it makes it easier for ex-partners to make a clean cut. The proceeds can be used to pay off any liabilities such as real estate loans. The rest of the profit can easily be divided among each other. It becomes complicated when one or even both partners want to stay in the same house. If someone wants to use the home alone, he has to pay off the other. The amount of compensation depends on the market value of the property and also takes into account how much money the person has already invested in the house.
If the bartenders do not come to a common denominator, the court decides in case of doubt. Various factors influence the judges’ judgment. For example, who is to blame for the failure of the marriage or whether there are children and with which parent they will live in the future. “Since children should not be torn from their familiar surroundings, this party usually receives the property,” explains Cerbe.
Take precautions when buying
The situation is different if only one spouse is registered as the owner in the land register or he has inherited the property. In this case, after the divorce, the house belongs to him alone. He then only has to compensate for the gain if the house or apartment has risen in value since he said yes. As a rule, the owner is allowed to stay in the property after the divorce. In exceptional cases, however, a court can also award the non-owner the right of residence. For example, if the couple lived together in the house and the non-owner can prove that he cannot find any other affordable place to stay for himself and the children he cares for.
Very few couples diverge on good terms – usually at least one remains injured. Experts therefore advise you to think about what to do with your house or apartment when you separate. The lovers should best write down the result. To many couples this may seem unnecessary at first. But in the end, agreements that have been made for the better are often the best solution for everyone involved.