What to Do with a House in a Divorce in Georgia

Georgia is an equitable distribution state


What is equitable distribution?

Georgia is an equitable distribution state. [1]This means that property and debt acquired after the marriage are divided fairly and in a way that the court sees fit when it comes to divorce.


What does this mean for divorcees in Georgia?

For those who have accumulated a large amount of assets during their marriage, it's important to know what's classified as "fair" when it comes to dividing up these assets. This includes that house.

Valuing a house or some other piece of real estate may seem straightforward: You simply look at its current value on the open market.


Purchased the home prior to marriage.

If you have purchased the home prior to marriage, we still look to equitable divide the value of the home but we look at who contributed what and when. If the spouses can agree between themselves regarding what will happen to the marital home and other real property, it is likely that the court will approve such a settlement agreement. However, if the couple is unable to come to an agreement, the court will decide the issue. If not, we look at what we call the source of funds rule. [2]


In General, to split a home according to equitable distribution, options include:

1. Selling the home

2. One person refinances and parties split equity

3. One person “buys out” the other party



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Talk to your spouse about selling the house and splitting the profits.

  • Talk to your spouse about selling the house and splitting the profits.

  • Consider how much equity you have in the home. You might ask, “How much equity do I have?” Equity is the difference between your mortgage loan balance and the fair market value of your home. If you want to find out how much equity you have in your home, contact a local real estate professional who can perform a comparative market analysis (CMA) to estimate what your home is worth. Contact someone who has experience with divorce situations and understands what it takes to get through this type of transaction smoothly.

  • Figure out how much money you need for another home purchase. When homeowners plan for divorce, one party may stay in the house while another goes their separate way, or both parties may decide that it's time to sell their current house and start fresh with new homes separately. In either situation, deciding whether to sell requires knowing whether there will be enough left over after paying off the mortgage loan balance to buy a new place—whether that's renting an apartment while looking for something more permanent or purchasing another property outright with cash or financing from a lender.

If your spouse wants to keep the house, you can either agree to let him sell it later or buy you out now.

  • If you want to keep the home, you and your spouse must agree to a buyout of your spouse's share of the home equity. To do this, a third-party appraiser will assess the property's current fair market value. You will have to pay your spouse his or her portion of the equity in cash or by refinancing the mortgage and taking over monthly payments for both shares.

  • If your spouse wants to keep the house, you can either agree to let him sell it later or buy you out now, which is called an "equitable distribution." If he refuses to sell it at a future date, then you can take him back to court and force him through legal action.

If your ex retains ownership of the house, he will have to refinance it in his name alone.

If your ex retains ownership of the house, he will have to refinance it in his name alone. This means you will have to remove your name from the mortgage and deed. You may need an appraisal done to determine the house's value, and you'll probably have to sign a quitclaim deed, which relinquishes any claims of interest you might still have in the home. The lender may require you to pay off any outstanding debts on the home loan before agreeing to release your name.

If your ex cannot qualify for a new loan on his own or does not want to refinance, you are responsible for ensuring that he makes all mortgage payments after the divorce is final until he can qualify for a new loan on his own or sells the property.


If you can get a mortgage loan on your own, consider buying out your ex-spouse's share of the home equity and keeping the house.


Make sure you assess your own financial situation before considering this option. If you have a stable income that enables you to make payments on a mortgage without any difficulty, then buying out your ex-spouse's share of the home equity may be an option for you. However, if making such large monthly payments would put too much strain on your resources, it might not be wise to assume full ownership of the property.

Your credit will also play a major role in whether or not refinancing is possible. People with good credit scores are more likely to qualify for reasonable loan terms than those with low scores.



Divorce is complicated and difficult, but you can work with your spouse to come up with an agreement that works for both of you.

If you and your spouse are on the same page when it comes to ending your marriage, it may be possible to reach a divorce agreement without much conflict. Here’s how:

  • Start by being reasonable and realistic. Asking for everything and expecting the other party to cave isn’t going to work out well for anyone in the long run. The best agreements are those that feel fair from both sides; any agreement one person feels was forced on them means there will likely be problems down the road when it comes time for each of you to honor their obligations under that agreement. Consider all of your options when deciding what happens with a house in a divorce. It may be possible for both spouses to afford to keep their home after the divorce if they refinance or sell and split the proceeds, among other possible solutions.* Negotiate from a place of logic instead of emotion in order to get a result everyone can live with.* Remember that although divorce can be incredibly difficult emotionally, there’s no reason it has to turn into a messy fight between spouses who don’t communicate w


[1]Goldstein v. Goldstein, 262 Ga. 136 (1992). Fuller v. Fuller, 621 S.E.2d 419 (Ga. 2005)

[2] Thomas v. Thomas, 259 Ga. 73 (1989)

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