One of the most emotional decisions in any divorce is whether you’re going to try to fight for the house. For many couples, the house represents the best memories, the biggest investment, and a cornerstone of stability for the kids.
Once, winning the house was considered a major coup. But more divorcees are starting to learn the house isn’t necessarily worth holding on to. In fact, Forbes even calls the marital home an “albatross,” and suggests “pitying the spouse who gets stuck with the depreciating manse.”
Here are a few reasons why you might not want to fight for the marital home.
Remember it’s easier to divide cash and debts than it is to divide a house.
While there’s no guarantee marital assets and debts will be divided 50/50, putting a home into the mix complicates matters. Homes are typically a mix of equity and debts alike, and if you don’t sell the house it’s very difficult to split them up.
When you sell, you either get a check or a decisive debt figure to factor into the marital property settlement. Committing to sell vastly simplifies and speeds the entire divorce process.
Remember your income is probably going to decrease.
You’re either going from a two income family to a one income family, or you’re going to become a one-income ex who pays the other spouse spousal or child support, or a no-income ex who receives spousal and child support until you get a job. Either way, your income today is unlikely to look exactly the same way it did when you bought the house.
In some cases, you won’t even have a good idea of what these differences will look like. Can you guarantee your mortgage payment will still be less than 35% of your income after all the changes are accounted for? If you’re not, you might be better off letting the house go.
Remember home values are decreasing, rather than increasing.
Home values have been going down for some time. Predictions for 2018 indicate the housing market will continue to cool. While this might create some stress: attempting to sell the home in a cooling market in the middle of a divorce, just think how much worse it will be to hold on to a depreciating asset that doesn’t fit your budget.
Remember, transferring the mortgage can become a nightmare.
If the mortgage isn’t in your name already, you might have to pay a bundle of fees and fines to transfer it. Sometimes these fees can reach into the thousands. You’ll have to do it, or the bank will continue to hold your spouse responsible for the mortgage, which can create real legal snarls down the line. And if you can’t qualify for a new mortgage in your name you might have trouble keeping the house after all.
Of course, it all depends…
Of course, as with many family law issues, deciding whether to keep the house isn’t as straightforward as a short blog post may make it out to be. There are a host of scenarios in which it might be appropriate or even advantageous to try to keep the home.
Fortunately, you don’t have to do this alone. Reach out to the lawyers at Sadek and Cooper to receive advice on your unique situation. We’ll be happy to discuss your home during your initial free consultation. Call today.