You may have fond memories of the day you bought your family home. Perhaps you remember the feeling you had when you first stepped into the empty house. It felt like home, and you imagined raising your family there and growing old with your spouse.
Things change, and sometimes these changes are drastic. If you and your spouse are heading for divorce, you are certainly rethinking many of those fond memories. This is leaving you with difficult decisions as you and your spouse divide your belongings. With the house on the table during asset division, you will want to know your options and understand the potential consequences of your decisions.
Thinking it through
The cleanest option is selling the home and splitting the profits. However, you may want to keep the home because of its sentimental value, but also because it offers stability and consistency for your kids. They can stay in the same Missouri school, keep their old bedrooms, and remain close to neighborhood friends and activities. You can bargain for the home in exchange for other marital assets, for example a retirement fund or bank account. You may also buy your spouse's share of the house.
However, it is important to have a clear and complete idea of your obligations for keeping the home, including these:
- Can you afford the mortgage payment, utilities and insurance, among other expenses?
- Will you have the time and energy to keep up with lawn care in summer and snow removal in winter?
- Can you handle seasonal repairs and maintenance?
- Do you have adequate credit to refinance the house to remove your spouse's name from the mortgage?
Another option is to continue owning the house with your spouse after the divorce. Some divorced couples agree to jointly own the house while the children are still in school, sharing the cost of any repairs or improvements as well as splitting the mortgage and other expenses. If this arrangement sounds like something you and your soon-to-be ex can manage, you will want to iron out your separate responsibilities in as much detail as possible, including when it will be appropriate to finally sell the house.
Working it out together
Meeting your goals in relation to your home is only one aspect of working out a reasonable and equitable property division for your divorce. To ensure you obtain your fair share of marital assets without taking on more liability than you can manage, you would be wise to have skilled and dedicated legal representation, even if you and your spouse decide to negotiate your own divorce settlement.