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 marital home.
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 condition.
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 an appointment.