In some ways, buying a house together is more of a commitment than getting married. It ties people together financially and forces them to combine their resources to pay off a very large shared debt. Even when the marital relationship starts to decline, couples may fight to stay together because they own a home together.
Eventually, even those who make every effort to work through their issues may have to recognize that their marriage is too damaged to repair. At that point, they have to start considering what resources they need to move forward. Oftentimes, the home where the spouses live together becomes the focal point of their disagreements during property division discussions due to its value. As a result, many divorcing spouses wonder whether they should aim to keep their marital home.
Living there isn’t a requirement to receive some of its value
It would be nearly impossible for judges to arrive at fair property division solutions if they had to apply a winner-take-all approach to dividing major assets. Many couples don’t have any property with enough value to offset the value of the marital home.
Judges will look at how much the home is worth and how much equity the couple has accrued in it before deciding how to divide that equity and other valuable assets. They may award possession of the home to one spouse, but often they will require that the spouse keeping the home to refinance the mortgage to withdraw equity and remove the other from the mortgage.
Not everyone will be in a position to retain their marital home after a divorce. They have to consider what the balance of the mortgage might be after making a payment to their spouse. Beyond that, there are the practical implications of solo homeownership to consider. Unless there are children who should stay in the home for the sake of stability, many people find that moving on from their marital home will be the best way for them to lay the foundation for a happier future.
If someone intends to seek the house in negotiations or litigation, they will need to do some financial research to ensure that they can qualify for a mortgage and review their financial situation carefully so that they can suggest property that could offset the home’s value or other terms that would make them keeping the home reasonable and fair. Too often, people let their emotional responses to divorce in their prior attachment to the home where they lived dictate what steps they take.
Being rational when setting goals for property division during divorce can help people reduce their personal frustration and achieve optimal outcomes with the assistance of a knowledgeable legal professional.