With the way the housing market has been over the last several years, you and your spouse may have built up a significant amount of equity in your residence. But if your marriage is on the rocks, you might be wondering who is going to get the money that is tied up in the family home.
It’s a good question, and one that is often grappled with during marriage dissolution. Your first step to answering it is to consider what you really want out of your divorce. If you have emotional ties to the residence and you need a place to live, you might be thinking about negotiating for the home. If, on the other hand, you want to get rid of your obligations to the residence, you might be considering your other options. But what is right for you?
Your options when dealing with the family home
The good news is that you might have a lot of options here, which gives you a little bit of flexibility. Before you make a decision on how to deal with the family home, you might want to consider each of the following options:
- Sell the home: This is a popular option. Here, you and your spouse put the residence on the market, sell it for as much as possible, and split the proceeds in a fair fashion. This allows you to quickly and cleanly break away from your spouse and the memories that you have tied up in the home while giving you some cash to start your post-divorce life. Just make sure that you and your spouse are clear on how the profits are going to be divided.
- Negotiate with your spouse: If you or your spouse want to keep the home, you need to be prepared to negotiate for what you want. If you want the home, you’re going to have to be ready to give up other significant assets, such as retirement accounts. Keep in mind, too, that if you keep the marital home, you’re going to be solely responsible not only for the mortgage but also any upkeep and maintenance. If, on the other hand, you’re giving up the marital home, you need to ensure that you’re getting appropriate assets in exchange. Those could be retirement accounts, but maybe it’s also alimony or significant pieces of personal property.
- Continue co-ownership: This might sound like a bad idea, but for some couples, it works. You may be able to turn the marital residence into an income-generating property by renting it out, or you and your spouse might simply agree to continue to share payments and build equity. Just keep in mind that if you choose the latter option, someone is still probably going to have to find somewhere else to live, which means that someone is probably going to have to pay twice as much as the other.
Develop the divorce strategy that is right for you
Figuring out what to do with the marital residence can be tricky. And yet, it’s just one piece of the divorce puzzle that you have to try to put together. We know that as you navigate the process, you’re going to be stressed and overwhelmed. But try not to worry. You can have a legal advocate by your side every step of the way. By doing so, you can protect your interests and ensure that you’re making the decisions that are best for you.