Few possessions stir up emotional turbulence more than the home. It’s not just four walls and shelter. For most, it’s also a large investment of money and a lot of work—painting updates, landscaping, remodeling even–to make it feel like a secure and comfortable base from which to do life. It’s also the location of happy laughter and tears, cherished memories and important events. No mystery why it’s often the most challenging asset to make decisions about in a divorce.
1. Emotional Attachments.
Your home is more than just a physical structure; it’s tied to memories, love, and shared experiences. Reflect on the emotional significance it holds for you and your family, and your spouse. Determine the relative importance you want to place on this attachment as you consider your settlement package as a whole.
2. Financial Feasibility.
Assess the financial implications of keeping the home or letting your spouse keep it. Consider mortgage payments, property taxes, maintenance costs, and whether either of you can afford to shoulder these responsibilities independently.
The spouse who keeps the home will be required to refinance if the mortgage is joint. Why? Typically the other can’t remain on the mortgage and still qualify to buy another home. Evaluate who can get approved for refinancing into his/her sole name. Sometimes child or spousal support can make a difference in qualifying. This factor-ability to refinance-often determines what’s possible.
4. Stability for the children.
If you have kids, evaluate how the decision will impact their stability and well-being. Keeping the home might provide a sense of continuity for them during a difficult time, but it’s crucial to ensure long-term financial security for both you and your kids. Surprisingly, kids often get excited about choosing bedrooms in a new home or living closer to a pool or favorite hangout or friend.
5. Shared Equity.
Determine the equity you and your spouse have built in the home. Selling the property and dividing the proceeds could be a painful but more practical option, especially if neither of you can afford to maintain it alone.
6. Future Plans.
Consider your future goals and aspirations. Does keeping the home actually align with your long-term vision, or would it hinder your ability to start anew and create a fresh beginning?
Open, respectful communication with your spouse is essential during this process. Be willing to compromise and explore creative solutions that benefit both parties. And remember, it doesn’t always have to happen immediately. Sometime parties agree to keep a home for an adjustment year, or until a child graduates, or some other important event happens, and then sell.
A word of caution: Seek legal advice from a qualified attorney with experience in divorce and property matters. The home is not a minor asset for most people and it’s worth making good decisions about. Now is the time to invest in obtaining valuable guidance tailored to your unique situation to help you navigate those turbulent emotions and the complexities of property division.
You don’t have to sail through this turbulence alone. Let us know if we can help you navigate to the other side.
Wishing you wisdom,