In divorce, one of the largest assets couples must divide is the marital home. This is the home you lived in together as a couple, and maybe where you raised your children. What you and your ex decide to do with the marital home can be one of the biggest (and most emotional!) decisions of your divorce.
In a lot of divorces, there’s one spouse who really wants to keep the marital home. Maybe the children are still young and you don’t want to uproot them, or you just simply love the house and don’t want to give it up. We get it! But can you afford to keep it?
At Hello Divorce, we’re always trying to give you all the resources and information you need to make informed decisions about your divorce. And deciding whether you can afford to keep the marital home is a huge decision! Here are our top tips for figuring out if you can really afford to keep the marital home.
Make a budget for now … and for the future.
While looking at your current budget to decide whether you can afford to keep the marital home is a no-brainer, it’s also important to look ahead to the future to see what you may be able to afford. If your spousal support ends in five years, could you still afford your mortgage payment? Are there any major financial events (like a family vacation or college tuition) in your future? Taking a 10,000-foot view of your finances now can help you decide if keeping the marital home is a financially viable option for you.
Weigh all the options.
Often, when one spouse keeps the marital home after the divorce is finalized, they have a certain amount of time to refinance the mortgage into only their name. This can sometimes be tricky if you have a low credit score or a lower income than your spouse. But, there are a few options that might make sense if you are having trouble transferring the home to your sole ownership, like maintaining joint ownership for a set amount of time (until the children reach a certain age, for instance) or ‘buying out’ the other spouse by bargaining other assets. Weigh all your options and work with your spouse if you can to find a solution that works for both of you.
Be honest with yourself.
During divorce, emotions can run high (understandably!) and you may find yourself wanting to hold on to something – anything – to keep a sense of normalcy. But it’s important that you are completely honest with yourself. What are your true reasons for wanting to keep the marital home? Can you really afford it on your current income? Would keeping the house mean that you would have to sacrifice other goals, like traveling or going back to school? Asking yourself (or a trusted friend) these hard questions can save you sticker shock – and regret – down the road.
Consult a financial advisor or CDFA.
If you find yourself stuck when trying to figure out whether or not to keep the marital home, it may be time to bring in the big guns. A financial analyst or Certified Divorce Financial Analyst (CDFA) can review your current finances, discuss your goals for the future, and provide you with an analysis of what you most likely will be able to afford post-divorce. Having a third-party expert look at your finances can help take some of the stress off of you, so you can concentrate on moving on to the next, better chapter of your life!
When it comes to deciding if keeping the marital home is the right financial decision for you, having the resources and knowledge to make an informed decision is key. At Hello Divorce, we know that these decisions aren’t easy, so we aim to provide you with as much (or as little!) support as you need during your divorce. Be sure to check out our membership options!
We also have tons of free resources! Here are a few of our favorites: