Before you fight for months over who gets to keep your house in your divorce, there are several things you need to consider. Staying in your home may be all you can think about in this time of upheaval, but don’t let your emotions get in the way of rational thinking.
If you have children, your thoughts may only be on keeping them in the home they love and know. This is understandable as many experts believe that children adapt to divorce easier when they are not uprooted from their home. You have to remember, though, that children adapt – even if you have to move from your home. If you keep your children’s routine (such as school district, sports, and play time with friends) as close to normal as possible, where they live won’t be nearly as important.
Keeping your home can be expensive. You may think making your mortgage payment won’t be any problem, but that is only the tip of the iceberg in owning a home. You need to think about home owner’s insurance and property taxes. Many people forget about property taxes and these can be a nasty and expensive surprise every six months.
Maintaining your home can also be expensive. Not only will you need equipment to keep your lawn looking nice, but you will also have to find the time to do it. You can hire someone, of course, but that can be costly – especially for someone who may be on a tight budget after a divorce. You can also expect that the exterior of your home will need to be cared for and repairs need to be made.
Think about the maintenance of the inside of your home, too. You will have to repair or replace any appliances that stop working. Any plumbing or electrical problems will need to be fixed immediately. If your spouse has always been the one to take care of the problems in your home, you may not think about any of these issues.
If you and your spouse are deep in debt, selling your home before you divorce may be in your best interest. No one wants to move, but starting your new life with less (or no) debt can make your post-divorce life much easier and happier. It may be easier to make the decision to sell your house before your divorce if you don’t have children that you want to keep in the same school district.
Before you start trying to divide your marital assets, sit down and really think about whether you can afford to keep your house. Make sure to consider all of the expenses you will have and how much income you will have. Remember to keep your emotions out of your decisions and think of your divorce settlement as a business deal.
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