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Should you fight for the house in your divorce?


You and your spouse have made the big decision to divorce. One of the most monumental decisions to make for property owners is what will happen to the family home in the divorce.

Below are some options you should consider:

Sell it outright and split any profit

This is a good option if neither of you can afford the home or if there is little equity. This option allows both of you to get out from under the mortgage. 

Have one spouse buy out the other

If you have minor children, this is a popular option. Of course, it hinges on one spouse having the means to cover the buyout, whether that’s credit or cash. Either may be hard to come by when you’re on your own.

Trade the house for another asset of similar value

Sometimes, parity can be achieved by trading your interest in another significant asset (like the retirement accounts) for the house. Before doing so, you need to consider:

  • Where you are on the ladder of your life: If you are in your 20s or early 30s, this might work because you still have decades to rebuild your retirement nest egg. If you are facing a gray divorce and are upwards of 50, this is probably not a prudent choice.
  • Whether you can manage the upkeep on your own: One problem with keeping the house can be the amount of upkeep that is necessary to maintain your property. Even if you can afford the mortgage, taxes and HOA fees, simply having to mow, rake, paint, patch and otherwise repair any defects can be daunting for a single person. This is especially true if you lack the handyman skills to do the job properly and have to fork over more cash for each project.

Both share the house while the kids are young

This concept is often referred to as bird’s nest parenting because it’s the parents who transition in and out of the house according to their co-parenting schedule and the children remain there 100% of the time. This arrangement has quite a few drawbacks, e.g., what if either of you remarries, but some families find it acceptable — at least initially.

Your San Marcos family law attorney can help you weigh each option and determine the best property settlement that will allow you to walk away from the marriage with sufficient assets to begin your new life.

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