Are You Sure You Want to Keep the Marital Home?
At the end of any divorce, the parties or the judge will have to make a
final decision on how to divide up the parties’ assets and debts.
This financial separation will include all of the assets and debts the
parties incurred during the marriage, and occasionally will also include
assets from before the marriage. For many people, the marital residence
is the largest asset that needs to be divided. It’s not uncommon
for one or both spouses to want to keep the house and continue to live
there. Spouses should carefully consider if they really want to keep the
The first and foremost inquiry should be whether you can actually afford
to keep living in the home. This includes not just the mortgage, but potential
rising property taxes, upkeep, and maintenance fees. Houses can be expensive
to own in terms of these small costs on top of just the mortgage. You
need to sit down and really examine your budget and whether you can afford
the house on your own. Although support payments from your spouse may
be awarded, consider whether your spouse is actually likely to timely
make these payments on a consistent basis. It is a safer route to assume
that the spouse will not make the payments and consider your mortgage
budget without those payments included.
Next, if you and your spouse share children, you should think about them
in terms of the home. If you are not going to be the custodial parent,
it may be better to allow the other parent to keep the home. This will
minimize disruption to the children’s day-to-day life, and will
let them stay in the same school district and keep the same friends.
You should also think about whether you can physically manage the home
on your own. Houses require upkeep, such as yard work and physical maintenance.
With your spouse gone, are you able to keep up all these tasks on your
own? It is useless to be awarded a nice home only to have it damaged or
fall into disrepair because you are not able to keep it in the proper
Finally, you should consider your financial future. If there is a large
amount of equity in the home, it may make more financial sense to sell
the home and buy a home that is a better size or in a better location
for your post-divorce future.
The issue of how to dispose of a marital residence in a divorce is often
a central issue. We can help you review your case and discuss your options
for your property and your house. Call us today at (732) 529-6937 for