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Handling the house in a divorce

On Behalf of | May 31, 2018 | Family Law |

For a lot of people, their house is the single biggest asset they have — which means it is also their No. 1 concern when they get divorced.

What do you need to think about when you’re in this situation?

Can either of you afford to keep the house?

Realistically assess your financial picture, post-divorce. Can either of you handle the mortgage on the house alone? What about additional expenses that aren’t part of the mortgage? For some people, that includes some hefty property taxes. For others, it might include some much-needed repairs or something as simple as landscaping services.

If neither of you can afford the house alone, it limits your options quite a bit.

Do either of you even want the house?

There’s an undeniably emotional aspect to the issue of whether or not you should try to keep the house. For some people, the family home reminds them of what they’ve lost or what they want to escape — there aren’t enough pleasant memories to keep them rooted there. For others, the house is the scene of too many good times to disregard easily.

How much is the property worth?

You can’t make any final decisions until you understand exactly what dollar signs you’re discussing. Until you’ve had a valuation of the real estate done, you may not know if you’re even dealing with positive or negative equity — let alone how much.

What options are you willing to consider?

Assuming that your house has some equity in it, you and your spouse can consider the following options:

  • Sell the house and divide the equity
  • One of you can refinance the house and buy out the other based on what the house is expected to fetch at sale
  • One of you can remain in the home while your children are minors, letting equity accrue, with the agreement that the house will be sold and the equity divided at a later date
  • One of you retains ownership and rents the home to the other, which can benefit each of you in different ways

Real property division is always a multistep process, so don’t expect to rush through this particular aspect of the divorce. Make sure that you have all the facts and understand all of the potential benefits and problems with each choice before you decide what you want to do.

Source:, “Divorce and Selling Real Estate,” Bill Gassett, accessed May 02, 2018


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