If you’re contemplating divorce, one of the biggest decisions you and your spouse will need to make is what to do with your home. It’s likely the largest joint asset you have. If you’ve lived in it for a number of years and you’ve been raising your children there, it may also be one of your more sentimental assets.
There are multiple options for what to do with the family home. Which one you choose depends on what you can afford, whether either of you wants it and other factors unique to your family. Many couples decide to sell the home and split the profit if neither wants or can afford to keep it on their own. It also gives you some money to start your new life.
Another popular option is for one spouse to buy the other’s portion. That’s a good option if only one person wants the home and can afford it on their own.
What situations warrant considering this option?
Some couples choose to continue to co-own the house. This requires communication and cooperation, so it’s not for everyone. However, for some families, it’s the best choice – at least for the foreseeable future. For example:
- If your child only has another year before going off to college, you may not want to uproot them.
- If one of you or your child needs accessibility features that have been built into the home, it can be difficult to find and equip another home right away.
If you and your spouse decide to continue to live separately but under one roof for the time being or use the “bird’s nest” approach to custody, you would likely continue to co-own the home.
If you choose to keep the home as a rental property
If you decide to continue co-owning your home, it’s crucial to have a legal agreement specifying how the cost of the mortgage and other expenses will be split and who will pay. Failure to make mortgage and tax payments in full and on time can hurt both of you. If you decide on this arrangement for a specified period, such as until your kids start college, that should be detailed as well.
Whether you continue co-owning your home or agree on another solution, dealing with the house will likely be one of the most complicated parts of your divorce. It’s crucial to have experienced legal guidance.