Property accumulated during a marriage, “marital property”,  is equitably divided in a divorce, which includes the equity in the marital home.  Who gets to keep the house if both parties want it? That’s a different story.

Often times, one party wants to keep the house to minimize all that changes in the children’s lives, inherent in a divorce.  It is also common to want to keep the house to avoid the hassle and expense of moving.  And in reality, many people feel that walking away from the marital home is the physical manifestation of emotional defeat.

While children of divorcing parents are forced to deal with so many changes in their lives, psychologists suggest that it is easier for children to deal with the many changes that come from divorce at one time, rather than healing from one change, and then being confronted with another.  Picking out new paint colors for their bedroom, or involving them in decorating the new digs is one way to bring excitement into a scary transitional phase.  As for the cost of moving, both parties will incur expenses whether replacing furniture that their spouse took with them, or giving the home a new look to create a positive atmosphere for a newly designed family.

The truth is the ending of a marriage is emotionally taxing and it can be challenging to identify wants based on feelings versus rational thought.

Ask yourself:

  1. What are the current monthly expenses (mortgage, utilities, cell phone, groceries, soccer practice, haircuts, doctor copays, car insurance, car payment, gas, cable, etc…)
  2. How much will the monthly expenses decrease post-divorce?
  3. What new or additional expenses will you have post-divorce? (health insurance, larger contribution to kids’ activities, everything that child support does not cover, etc….)
  4. Will I have any money left after the monthly bills are paid?
  5. Would I get approved to refinance the mortgage into my name alone?
  6. Do I have the cash or assets to buy out my spouse’s equity interest? If I do, will I be left with any assets other than the equity in the home?
  7. Could I qualify to get a mortgage on my own?
  8. Could I find suitable housing for less than the monthly cost of maintaining the marital home?
  9. Do I have sufficient credit to be able to rent?

In determining whether to keep the marital home, consider the impact to the division of the marital estate and the impact to cash flow.