In many divorce cases, the marital home is the single largest asset a couple owns and one that holds a significant emotional attachment. This is particularly so when there are children involved. These two realities often make the decision of whether to sell the or not an exceptionally difficult one. So what should you consider when dividing the marital home?
Buying out your spouse’s interest and staying in the home
While staying in the home may ultimately be the best decision for you, please try your best to take the emotion out of the decision making process. Make sure you are indeed in a financial position to carry the cost of a house and all that entails.
For instance, while you may be able to make monthly mortgage and insurance payments, will you have the ability to handle the other higher ticket financial obligations that come with home ownership, i.e. replacing a leaking roof or purchasing a new air conditioning system. What will you have to give up in order to keep the house?(i.e. refinance the loan, forego your rights to spouse’s pension or waive your right to other marital assets in lieu of your spouse receiving an agreed upon share of equity). Take an honest look at your finances and assess what makes the most sense for your family and financial future.
Continuing to co-own the marital home
In some instances, the parties will agree to continue to own the house together with no refinance. This is most common when the parties’ children are in high school or it would benefit the children to stay in the same home and school through high school graduation. In these situations, one spouse remains with the children in the home while the other moves out.
While this may be a viable option, make sure to consider the risks and potential strain of continuing to deal with your ex-spouse. Can you rely on your soon to be ex-spouse to pay their share of the expenses without facing a constant battle? If you are the one moving out, will your credit allow you to secure an additional loan or lease? Do you trust that your ex-spouse will properly maintain the house and it’s upkeep?
Dividing personal property within the marital home
Whether you ultimately choose to stay or go, the joint personal property within the home will need to be divided between you and your spouse. Save the money and tackle these decisions with your spouse, not your attorneys. Nobody knows the contents of the home and their respective value to each party better than you. Take an inventory of the contents of your home and have each party write down those they wish to keep. See which items you can agree on and you can take turns picking items from there. Remember: the cost of getting your lawyer involved in this aspect of the split will likely exceed the value of the items in dispute.
While the marital home decision may seem overwhelming, taking a step back and weighing the pros and cons of your options will ensure that you are making the thoughtful, calculated decision needed in properly preparing you to start a new chapter in life.
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