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Should I try to keep the marital home in my divorce?

There are many reasons you may want to keep your marital house after your divorce. You may have spent years fixing up your house, building memories there and turning it into a home. You may have raised children in that house, and if your children are still young, you may want them to continue living in that home and attending the same school. Your house may also be one of the biggest assets you and your spouse acquired throughout your marriage.

Having specific goals for your divorce outcome can be beneficial because your goals allow you to focus your energy in a meaningful direction during the divorce process. However, it can also be valuable to take time to make sure keeping your marital home is really the best goal for your situation.

How are assets, like a house, generally divided in divorce?

If you and your spouse purchased your house during your marriage, it will likely be considered marital property, which means that it is subject to division during your divorce. The division of marital property need not be equal, though it must be fair.

You may have the most influence over the division of marital assets if you work with your spouse to find a solution you can both agree to. If a court must decide how to divide your assets, it will consider several factors, including:

  • How each spouse contributed to the family
  • The value of each spouse’s property interests
  • Each spouse’s economic circumstances
  • The duration of the marriage
  • The cause for divorce

Can you afford to keep your house?

There are several components that can make it affordable to keep your house or not. One of the more important considerations is the amount of money you might owe your spouse to buy him or her out. This may depend on the value of the house, the amount of any non-marital funds that were used to purchase or maintain the house, and other factors.

Another important consideration might be the affordability of the mortgage and maintenance payments. If you are used to pooling resources with your spouse, these expenses can be difficult to afford on your own. Depending on your situation, you may be able to use alimony or child support payments to pay for housing expenses. However, these payments probably will not last forever, so you may need to develop a plan for how you might afford these costs long term.

Would another option be more appropriate for your situation?

Sometimes a person going through divorce is so focused on keeping the house that he or she never stops to consider what alternatives are even available. Before deciding what you want to do with your house, it can be helpful to understand all your options and the possible consequences of each option.

For example, you could sell the house and split the proceeds with your spouse. This option allows you to break cleanly from your spouse, get a fresh start somewhere else, and possibly use that money to invest in a more affordable property. Keep in mind that the proceeds you receive from selling your house are more liquid than the house itself, which can be helpful in a variety of ways as you build a new life for yourself post-divorce.

Another option might involve maintaining joint ownership of the home. This can be an attractive option for parents who want to keep their children living in the same home. However, some details of this arrangement can be tricky to work out. You and your spouse will need to determine who pays the mortgage, who pays for home improvements and who pays for repairs, among other details.

There are many factors to consider when determining what you want to do with your house during your divorce. Choosing to keep your house and buy out your spouse can be a good goal, but every situation is different. Ultimately, you must decide for yourself what the best goals are for your circumstances.

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