Divorce Home Buyout Guide

A home buyout in divorce can be a way for one spouse to hold onto the marital home. However, there are many things to consider, not the least of which is affordability.

What is a home buyout in divorce?

A home buyout in a divorce is a process where one spouse agrees to purchase the other spouse's share of the marital home, effectively allowing the buying spouse to retain full ownership of the property. This can be a viable option for divorcing couples who wish to avoid selling their home, especially if one party has a strong emotional connection to it or if it benefits them financially to keep the property.

Spouses must first determine the value of the home and each person's equity in the property. This typically involves hiring a professional appraiser to assess the current market value of the home. 

Once the value has been established, the couple must then agree on the terms of the buyout. This may include negotiating the amount to be paid, the timeline for payment, and any necessary adjustments for debts, taxes, or other expenses tied to the property.

Who gets the house in divorce? How do you split the value? Try our Home Equity Buyout Calculator.

Why would a person do a home buyout?

There are several reasons why a person might choose to pursue a home buyout in a divorce:

Emotional attachment

One spouse may have a strong emotional connection to the home. It may relate to their memories, the time and effort invested in the property, or a desire to maintain stability for their children. A home buyout allows that spouse to retain the home and avoid the emotional upheaval of moving.

Financial benefits

In some cases, it may be financially advantageous for one spouse to keep the home. For example, if the mortgage is close to being paid off, the owning spouse may benefit from the increased equity and potential appreciation in the property's value over time. Further, there could be tax benefits associated with keeping the home, such as mortgage interest deductions.

Stability for children

If the couple has children, a home buyout may provide stability and continuity in their lives by allowing them to remain in the same home, neighborhood, and school district. This can help minimize the disruption and stress that often accompany divorce.

Read: Understanding and Protecting Kids’ Mental Health in Divorce

Housing market conditions

In a slow or declining housing market, selling the marital home may not be the most financially viable option. A home buyout can allow the couple to avoid the potential loss they might incur if they were to sell the property at a lower price.

  • Faster resolution: Selling a home can take time, and during a divorce, both parties may prefer a quicker resolution. A home buyout can expedite the process of dividing assets, allowing the couple to finalize their divorce more efficiently.
  • Control over the property: A home buyout allows the buying spouse to have full control over the property, including decisions about future renovations, renting, or selling the home.

It's important to note that a home buyout may not be the best solution for everyone. Each couple should carefully consider their unique circumstances and financial situation before making a decision. Consulting with legal and financial professionals is highly recommended to ensure the best outcome for both parties.

Read: How to Work with a Certified Divorce Financial Analyst

How do you buy out a home from someone?

To buy out a home from someone, particularly in the context of a divorce, there are several options available. Each option has pros and cons; the best choice depends on the couple's financial situation, preferences, and the value of their assets. 

Here are some of the most common options for buying out a home:

Buying out with cash

The simplest way to buy out a spouse's share of the home is to pay cash for the agreed-upon equity amount. This method requires the buying spouse to have sufficient cash reserves or access to funds through savings, investments, or a personal loan.

The advantage of this option is that it is relatively straightforward and can be completed quickly. However, it may not be feasible if the buying spouse lacks the necessary cash resources.

Refinancing a mortgage

Another option is to refinance the existing mortgage on the home, taking out a new loan that includes the amount needed to buy out the other spouse's share. This allows the buying spouse to replace the existing mortgage with a new one that reflects their sole ownership of the property.

Refinancing can be advantageous if the buying spouse qualifies for a lower interest rate or better loan terms, but it may come with additional costs, such as closing fees and potentially higher monthly payments.

Selling the home and splitting the proceeds

If neither spouse can afford to buy out the other's share, or if they both agree that selling the home is the best course of action, they can put the property on the market and divide the proceeds according to their respective shares of equity. This option can provide both spouses with a fresh start and the opportunity to purchase new homes that suit their individual needs and budgets. However, selling a home can take time, and market conditions may affect the final sale price.

Giving up other marital items

In some cases, a spouse may choose to relinquish their claim to other marital assets, such as cars, jewelry, or retirement accounts, in exchange for the other spouse's share of the home. This can be a viable option if the value of these assets is roughly equal to the amount needed for the buyout. 

Such an arrangement should be carefully documented and included in the divorce settlement agreement to avoid future disputes.

Use our free Home Equity Buyout Calculator.

How much does it cost to buy your spouse out of a house?

The cost of a buyout isn't straightforward, and various factors must be considered:

The current market value of the home: To accurately assess the value of the property, it's often necessary to hire a professional appraiser. An appraiser will consider factors like the home's condition, location, comparable properties in the area, and current real estate market trends to provide an unbiased opinion of the home's value.

Each spouse's equity: Equity is the difference between the home's market value and the outstanding mortgage balance. To determine each spouse's equity share, divide the total equity by two (assuming equal ownership). For example, if the home's value is $300,000 and the outstanding mortgage balance is $200,000, the total equity is $100,000, and each spouse's equity share would be $50,000.

Any adjustments for debts, taxes, and expenses: The buyout price may need to be adjusted to account for any outstanding debts, taxes, or expenses related to the property. For instance, if one spouse has contributed more toward mortgage payments, they may be entitled to a larger share of the equity. 

Additionally, costs like capital gains taxes, property taxes, and other fees should be considered when determining the final buyout amount.

Factors to consider when preparing to buy out your home

When preparing to buy out a spouse during a divorce, several factors need to be considered to ensure a fair and equitable process. These factors include property laws, the amount of money needed, the home's value, and the possibility of obtaining a loan.

Property laws: Equitable distribution vs. community property

In the United States, state laws governing the division of property during a divorce fall into two categories: equitable distribution and community property. Equitable distribution laws require assets to be divided fairly but not necessarily equally, while community property laws mandate a 50/50 split of marital assets.


John and Jane live in a state with equitable distribution laws. They purchased a home together during their marriage, but John contributed more toward the down payment and mortgage payments than Jane did.

When they decide to divorce, the court may take these contributions into account and award John a larger share of the home's equity. In contrast, if they lived in a community property state, the equity would be split evenly between them regardless of their individual contributions.

How much money is needed

The buying spouse must have sufficient funds to cover the buyout amount, which includes the other spouse's share of the home's equity and any additional costs, such as taxes, fees, and outstanding debts.


Mary and Mark are getting divorced, and Mary wants to buy out Mark's share of their home. Their home is valued at $400,000 with an outstanding mortgage balance of $250,000. The total equity is $150,000, and Mark's share is $75,000. Mary will need at least $75,000 to buy out Mark's share plus any additional costs associated with the buyout process.

The home's value

Determining the current market value of the home is essential for calculating each spouse's equity share. A professional appraiser should be hired to provide an accurate valuation.


Lisa wants to buy out Luke's share of their home. They hire an appraiser who determines the current market value of the property is $350,000. With an outstanding mortgage balance of $200,000, the total equity is $150,000, and each spouse's share is $75,000.

Getting a loan

If the buying spouse does not have enough cash on hand to cover the buyout amount, they may need to obtain a loan or refinance the existing mortgage.


Mike wants to buy out Michelle's share of their marital home. The buyout amount is $80,000, but Mike only has $40,000 in savings. He decides to refinance the existing mortgage, taking out a new loan that includes the additional $40,000 needed to cover the buyout amount.

Where can I get help?

If you're considering whether to buy your spouse’s share of the marital home in divorce, you have a lot to think about. High on this list is your post-divorce financial situation.

At Hello Divorce, we can support you as you work through your financial needs. We’ll put you in touch with a qualified financial expert who can take a deep dive into your finances and make sure a buyout is the right choice for your situation.


Divorce Content Specialist & Lawyer
Divorce Strategy, Divorce Process, Legal Insights

Bryan is a non-practicing lawyer, HR consultant, and legal content writer. With nearly 20 years of experience in the legal field, he has a deep understanding of family and employment laws. His goal is to provide readers with clear and accessible information about the law, and to help people succeed by providing them with the knowledge and tools they need to navigate the legal landscape. Bryan lives in Orlando, Florida.