Which Spouse Should Get the Vacation House in a WA Divorce Settlement?

You never thought you would have to make this decision. When you and your spouse purchased a beach house, you thought your children and grandchildren would be having barbecues on the deck for years to come—but, now that you’re getting divorced, you’re not sure that’s a possibility. You could sell it, but you’ve put a lot of work into it, and it’s become a special place for you. How can you decide who gets the vacation house after your divorce is final?

Selling, Splitting, and Staying: Three Options to Consider When Dividing a Vacation Home

Generally speaking, there are three ways to split a second home between you and your ex-spouse, each with its own risks and rewards:

  • Selling. In most cases, divorcing couples will choose to sell their vacation homes. Unfortunately, Washington housing values may not allow you to recoup the amount you paid for the property—especially considering you will have to split this amount between you and your ex-spouse.
  • Splitting. You and your spouse may choose to keep and split the property in two ways: by taking turns using it throughout the season, or with one spouse living in the vacation home full-time. The advantage to the second option is that vacation homes are usually not eligible for a capital gains tax exclusion after a divorce. However, if the house is being used as a primary residence, you may be exempt from this tax.
  • Staying. If one spouse keeps the vacation home as a second residence, he or she will have to weigh its value as an asset. This includes how much the property is currently worth, the fees to repair or maintain the property, and the amount of capital gains tax to be paid if the property is sold in the future.

How to Get Fair Treatment When Dividing Assets

The most important thing to remember is that you only get one chance to make the right decision about which property to keep in your divorce. All too often, spouses will make emotional decisions based on their property, leaving with less than a fair portion for their family members to live on for the rest of their lives.

A divorce mediator can take an impartial look at your financial situation to help you decide what you want, why you want it, and whether you have been offered a fair amount of your shared belongings. Click the contact link on this page to ask us your questions in a private consultation, or request a copy of our free guide, The Savvy Woman’s Guide to Divorce in Washington.

Molly B. Kenny
Founder and Principal Divorce Attorney
Molly B. Kenny's Bellevue family law office is conveniently located on Lake Bellevue Drive, making it easily accessible to those in the greater Seattle area. Our divorce and child custody lawyers help men and women get the information, guidance, and compassionate representation they need.
Law Offices of Molly B. Kenny