Q: Do we wait to do a house-buyout when the divorce is final or can we do it at the start of our year long separation?
A: You can do it anytime - if the parties agree then it is the best practice to go ahead and get the full agreement in writing and have it formally executed (a Separation Agreement). Then you can just wait for the one year and someone can file for divorce.
Your husband is entitled to:
(Home's current value - home's date of separation mortgage debt) / 2
That is, presuming (a) you didn't sign a separation agreement to the contrary (b) you lived in the home rent-free while paying the mortgage (c) the mortgage payments you made after the date of separation were from your own income earned after the separation date and not from marital accounts.
This is consistent with Albert's response. The home is "marital property" and any gain in value is owned by the marriage (50/50 each).
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