When going through a divorce and dealing with property division, one of the most difficult things to deal with can be the marital residence. How this asset is handled varies from couple to couple. Some couples choose to sell it and split the net proceeds.Others choose to have one spouse keep the home and buy out the other spouse’s share. Some couples leave it to one spouse and compensate the other spouse with different assets equal to his or her share in the property.
Often, one spouse really wants to keep the marital residence because it has sentimental value or because they believe it will minimize the disruption that their children will face after the divorce. If you’re of this mindset, there are numerous factors to consider before deciding to hold onto the house in divorce.
What is the home worth?
The first question to ask is “how much is the home worth?” The most accurate way to answer that question is to get a professional appraisal. Once the home is appraised, you need to subtract the mortgage and any other liens on the property, a home equity line of credit or other factors which could lower the immediate value of your home. Then, you’ll need to decide if the final value of the house is something you want to advocate for in light of the fact that you’ll either be buying out your spouse or trading away an equivalent amount of assets.
Can you afford the ongoing costs?
Houses cost a lot of money, and the costs are ongoing. In addition to monthly mortgage payments, you will also be responsible for paying utilities, taxes, repairs/renovations and replacing furniture/furnishings. On a single income, these costs can be especially steep. It is important to do the math before deciding to seek sole ownership of the house in divorce.
Is this an investment you would make if you didn’t already live there?
It is difficult to be objective about something as personal as a home. You have a history there, and it may be where you raised your children. When deciding about keeping the house after divorce, however, you need to approach it as though you were considering this property for the first time. If you were buying a new home as a single person, would this house be a good investment?
Assuming that you have the option to keep the house in divorce, it is not always an easy decision to make. Thankfully, an experienced family law attorney can be a great resource for making this and other important decisions.