For many California couples going through the divorce process, the family home is the most valuable asset. Deciding what to do with it often becomes a major point of contention during property division negotiations. Couples have a few ways they can go about splitting up the home.

The first step in the process is figuring out how much the property is worth. Market value is just one of the things that matter. To figure out the market value, the spouses should hire an appraiser. It is a good idea to hire the appraiser together, but if both hire separate appraisers and they return with very different numbers, then a third appraiser will be needed to settle the value. If the house is mortgaged, the home’s equity must be calculated to figure out the worth of each spouse’s share.

During the property division process, one spouse may choose to buy out their ex-spouse’s share of the home. Alternatively, the couple could also negotiate other assets in exchange for one spouse’s share of the home. Some sell the home and split the profits. Before making a final decision on what to do with the home, the couple should also hire a home inspector to check for issues, such as damage from termites, plumbing problems and other concerns that may impact the property’s value. This will also affect the negotiations as the spouses will need to agree who will pay for the repairs.

During the property division process, each spouse might benefit from consulting with a lawyer in the family law field. Legal counsel might speak for their client during negotiations and offer advice on how to proceed with the divorce process.