The marital home can be the the largest point of contention in a divorce for many couples. It makes sense to weigh the many benefits and disadvantages to keeping the home with one of the spouses after the divorce, though. After all, the marital home might be the anchor of stability you need during divorce, but might also be the anchor that pulls you under.
The marital home’s benefits are easy to identify. The home might provide some comfort to school age children during and after the difficult divorce process. The home feels comfortable, familiar, and safe. Receiving the marital home in the divorce can be a sign of success for some litigants. Being the party that stays in the home also avoids dreaded moving hassles. And, it provides consistency for you when things are changing rapidly.
Your keeping the marital home is not always in your best interests, though. You likely do not need the same amount of space after divorce than you did before divorce — you will have less people living there as often, less personal items to store in the home, and you will probably have less time while running a home as a single parent. Further, statistically speaking, it is also less likely you can afford to maintain the home. When considering keeping the home, be sure to factor in mortgage principal and interest, property taxes, homeowner’s insurance, dues, house and yard maintenance and improvements on the large home.
It might not be best for your spouse to keep the home either. If the spouse fails to refinance the mortgage, you could find yourself embroiled in a foreclosure with your spouse years after divorce.
For these reasons, it is important to at least consider other options for what you call home. For many, a clean break from the marital home and all the memories it carries is a good thing. Couple that with the benefits of renting a smaller home for a year while you try out a new budget, a new family structure, and new interests. You can spend that year getting accustomed to your new “normal” and thinking about where the next step in your life should be taken; instead of being cornered into your marital home and everything that comes with it.
Our firm generally recommends selling the marital home if the option exists. That said, everyone’s circumstances and needs are different, so there is no blanket advice. A thorough review of your needs and demands, the professionally appraised value of the home in comparison to mortgage debt, and the tax consequences that might face you all must be considered before making this complex decision.