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Divorce and the family home: often a lot to think about

"What should I do about the house?"

That is a question that divorce attorneys frequently hear from clients contemplating or in the midst of a divorce, and it is obviously a material one.

Property division is a key factor in the divorce proceedings of many couples, and there is often no other issue that predominates quite like the real property -- especially the family home -- that a couple has worked for years to acquire and eventually own, either substantially or entirely.

As many family law attorneys readily note from vast experience, divorcing parties often see a house as something far more than a simple financial asset. That is, they likely see it in emotional terms as well, putting value on the premises because it is where the children grew up, where mom and dad eventually came to live and where memorable family events occurred

A stranger -- read potential buyer -- obviously doesn't see it that way at all and, owing to differences in perspectives, valuation can become problematic and a real sticking point.

The proper answer in most cases to the question of whether to keep a house following divorce is both succinct and a bit frustrating: Maybe.

Usually, many factors enter into the assessment for a divorcing party including, centrally, these:

  • Can either soon-to-be ex make the monthly payments involved in ownership?
  • Is repair and maintenance going to be an issue?
  • Do size, location, age, amenities and other factors need to be reconfigured?
  • Will refinancing be in play and, if so, what are the sources of income that will be shown to a potential lender?

In any given case, a score or more of other considerations might also be involved. In short, there is usually a lot to think about when a home is front and center for a divorcing couple focused on asset division.

Source: Huffington Post, "Keeping the house after divorce," Kathleen B. Connell, Feb. 20, 2013

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