You and your spouse may own a vacation cabin or second home in addition to your primary marital residence. Courts view a second home differently than the parties’ marital home when dividing the parties’ marital property. For example, one spouse is often allowed to stay in the marital home until the children turn 18.
In determining what happens to a second home, a court looks first to whether the home is separate or marital property. The house is marital property if it was acquired during the marriage. The house is separate property if it was acquired before the marriage or if a spouse received the house through a gift or inheritance. If the second home is marital property, it is subject to equitable division. An equitable division of marital property may or may not be an equal division.
If the parties enter a marital settlement agreement, the parties can decide who gets the second home. The parties may agree to sell the house and split the proceeds. The court will subtract any mortgages and costs before dividing the proceeds. One party may get ownership of the second home and pay an offsetting award to the other spouse.
You may have an emotional tie to your vacation home. You should keep your emotions under control and try to make the best decision for your financial future. An experienced divorce attorney can explain the pros and cons and guide you to the right decision.