When you’re going through a divorce, everything seems to change at once. You’re on your own, you’re sharing custody of your children, you’re fighting over a fair division of property with your ex. It might seem even more important to hold on to the house you lived in as a couple as a last bastion of familiarity and stability, both for yourself and your children. However, as comforting as it may be to remain living in your house, there are downsides to this choice that you may want to consider as you try to forge a division of property with your ex, or through a judge. Speak with your attorney and try to achieve an objective rationale for whether or not to fight to keep your house in a divorce.
- What is the objective value of the house?
While the amount of value you assign to the home is necessarily colored with the sentimental value it holds for you during a difficult time, as well as the time and money you’ve put into making the home how you want it, an objective buyer may not look at it the same way. Is the home in need of major repairs, such as a new roof, major plumbing work, or a repair to become compliant with building codes? Make sure you obtain the services of a professional appraiser to value the home accurately and give you some sense of the state of the housing market around you. If you hang onto a home that needs work you can’t afford to do, and a strong seller’s market passes you by before you decide you’re ready to move on or move in with a new partner, you could end up with a very expensive problem on your hands. Make sure you’re ready to invest in repairs before deciding to shoulder the cost of making the home sellable on your own, rather than splitting the loss with your ex, or letting her or him keep the house.
- Can you afford the mortgage payments?
After a divorce, you may be suddenly reminded of the expenses of living on your own –the utilities, medical costs, and other living expenses that you can no longer share with a partner. Making a monthly mortgage payment each month may be harder to swing than you currently realize. If you’ve been the wage-earning spouse through the marriage, remember any added expenses after a divorce such as alimony or child support payments that you may now have. If you’re entering the workforce after a long hiatus spent staying home with children, keep in mind that your earnings might not be what they once were prior to taking a break from work. Sit down with someone you trust to walk you through how to plan your budget post-divorce, and determine whether a mortgage fits into what you earn.
- Will you be able to obtain a refinanced mortgage for the home?
If you and your spouse purchased the home you own together, and both your names are on the mortgage, you will need to refinance the home to remove your spouse’s name and put it in your name only. This could have an effect on the interest rate you obtain for your mortgage, and might even be a challenge to obtain at all, if you’ve been out of the workforce for an extended time, or if the majority of the credit you and your spouse obtained was in your spouse’s name.
If you are anticipating a divorce, start planning early to ensure the smoothest and most amicable split you can manage. To walk you through the process, contact the experienced and compassionate San Diego divorce attorney Andy Cook at 619-515-9900.