dad wins the house after divorce

WA Supreme Court rules for Father in Home Sale

Goldberg Jones Divorce Leave a Comment

It is not everyday that the Washington Supreme Court reviews a family law case. Yet, recently the Court issued an opinion that could affect the way funds are distributed in a complex divorce. While the facts of this case are very specific, I highlight it show how a divorce can become very complicated very quickly.

I’ll summarize the facts:

  • The couple got married,
  • opened a business and bought a house.
  • Four years later, they filed for divorce.
  • In the time between filing for divorce and final resolution, the couple separately filed for bankruptcy.
  • The bankruptcy put a halt on the divorce finalization and the division of the assets were set aside.

It took three years to clear up the bankruptcy. In the meantime, the business closed and the bank came after the wife for loan she had on the business. Between the bankruptcy, divorce, and debt collection proceedings there were several collectors knocking at the door and complicating finalization of the divorce.

The question the Washington Supreme Court had to answer this question: does the bank get to collect the money from the house sale before the divorcing husband? I won’t get into gritty legal details but the result was that the husband had priority and first bite the money from the sale of the house.

My take-away from this case is that divorces can be very complicated. This one took almost 10 years. While you may not “lucky” enough to be fighting over a million-dollar house, many couples are juggling similar problems like a declining relationship, foreclosure, and bankruptcy.

If you are really interested in the Washington Supreme Court Case, the citation is:
Bank of Am., N.A. v. Owens, 84044-0, 2011 WL 5084586 (Wash. Oct. 27, 2011)

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