Fighting over the family home is a common experience during divorce. Although the courts don’t usually award the full value of a house to one spouse, people lose sight of the big picture when it comes to expensive items like real estate.
Wanting to keep the family home because you have an emotional attachment to the property or you want to offer stable and easier transitions for your kids after the divorce is reasonable. Wanting to keep the house as a way of punishing your ex is less so.
Moving on with your life might mean letting go of the space that has been your home for most of your marriage. There are at least three compelling reasons to consider letting your spouse keep the house or selling it during the divorce.
You owe more than the house is worth
It can be hard to know how the real estate market will change when you first make a purchase. If the local market undergoes a correction, the amount of your mortgage might far exceed what you can sell the house for now.
For some couples who are underwater on their mortgage, selling the house and splitting the loss is the best approach. Other times, they may want to retain the house jointly and sell it when the local markets recover or even allow one spouse to keep it because of the diminished value.
You want the value of the house but not the property itself
Your home may be a six- or seven-figure asset, and it can be hard to walk away from that amount of value. During the property settlement process, the courts try to fairly split up what you own and what you owe between you and your ex.
Even if you don’t keep the house, your share of its value will influence what other property you get to keep and what debts the courts assign to you. If you don’t care about keeping the house but just its value, there’s no reason to fight for the property.
You can’t afford the mortgage on the property by yourself
What was a realistic and affordable home for a couple with two incomes may not be feasible for you as a recently divorced single person or parent. You will need to look closely at your credit and income to determine whether you can potentially qualify for a mortgage and maintain the house on your own.
If retaining the home itself won’t necessarily benefit you, you can focus instead on maximizing how much of the marital estate you keep, rather than just on keeping the most expensive assets from the marital estate, like the house.