If divorce with children wasn’t complicated enough, divorce with multiple properties might be a close second. Statistica estimates that 3.47 million U.S. households own a second or additional home. Michigan divides property between divorcing individuals by equitable distribution, but what does that look like for couples with multiple properties?

What makes these divorces challenging?

Over the course of your marriage, you may have invested in a boathouse, a vacation home, a rental property, a business property, or a timeshare. These may be in another state or even another country. Dividing these might seem daunting.

Luckily, equitable division of property might mean that you are not compelled to sell the properties outright, but it might be the smartest or simplest move financially.

Several things will influence your decision. The more emotional ties you or other family members have to the property, and the state where the property is located (especially if you or your spouse has an international family or background), the more difficult your choices may be.

What can a couple do with the properties?

The following are possible options you and your spouse may decide:

  • Keep: If you have small children or strong family ties, it may be best not to uproot them.
  • Sell: If your income after separation will not support it, or it is emotionally unhealthy to keep it, it may be wise to sell the property so that neither spouse has it. Deciding on a realtor, or how to deal with your spouse during the headaches that a sale can bring may bring more difficulties than you first realize.
  • Buy your spouse’s share: If you have more invested in the property if your children will live or visit there if the market just isn’t right, or you just bought the home, you may be able to buy your spouse’s share of the property.

If you or your spouse acquired the property through inheritance or purchased it before you married, you might not have to split it in the divorce. However, if you still believe in your unique situation that you are entitled to compensation for it, but your name isn’t on the title, you may need expert legal assistance.

You will have to carefully manage any debt, mortgages and title transfers between you and your spouse for those properties. You may even need to consolidate these debts with the help of a financial expert.

You and your spouse may have difficulty making decisions about your multiple properties. If the two of you cannot come to a private agreement, or after using a third-party mediator, a judge may decide for you. This may produce results, but it might not be the ones you want. The right legal team could make all the difference.