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Should You Keep Your Marital Home After the Divorce?

When you are getting a divorce and own a home with your spouse, you have a few options. One of you may decide to keep the marital home or you can sell it and both move on purchasing or renting another residence. You may love your home, your neighborhood, and want to keep it to provide consistency for your children. Before making any final decisions or trying to negotiate to keep the home for yourself, think about this list of questions:

  1. Can you buy out your partner? As your divorce moves forward your house will be appraised, and the equity you have in the home is up for equitable distribution. If you would like to keep the home you will have to "buy out" your spouse giving them an amount of cash (or equivalent) or negotiate in a unique way.
  2. Refinance the mortgage - can you get a mortgage on your own. You will have to prove that you can so your ex will be removed.
  3. Can you afford the monthly bills? As you know, owning a home can be expensive and goes beyond the monthly mortgage payment. When you factor in taxes, homeowners insurance as well as association fees, cable and power you may be beyond your budget.
  4. Can you afford to maintain the home? When something in your home breaks, the roof starts leaking or a toilet overflows you may need to call in a professional to fix it. These can be costly. In addition to the major repairs all homes require minor repairs every now and again and you must have the funding. Not keeping up with repairs will cause your home to repreciate in value.
  5. Lastly, can you handle it? Maintaining a home with a partner is one thing, what about on your own? If you have significant financial resources you can certainly hire professionals to help you maintain it, but if you have to do it on your own do you have the time, know-how and ability?

Many times parents feel an emotional tie to keep the marital home for the stability of their children. They know their kids are going to go through a bit of an upheaval and feel guilty. In many ways keeping the marital home can cause significant problems if you are unable to financial or physically handle the required maintenance. While you may be emotionally tied to your home it is important to make this decision with an eye on finances as well.  And remember, having financial stability for yourself provides stability for your child.  

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