Monday, February 25, 2013

Is The House Really Worth It?

Having to decide what to do with the marital residence is a common issue faced by many couples. Prospective clients want to know whether it’s worth fighting to keep the house for themselves or if they should instead be running the other direction. The answer is a complicated one and depends on a variety of factors. Some of the factors are emotional while others are objective and strictly financial.

First things first, if you’re considering keeping the house you need to ask and answer some crucial questions. How big is the property? How about the yard? How much is the mortgage? Can you afford the mortgage payments alone? How about with alimony? How much does it cost to maintain the house? The yard? Are you able to do the work yourself? Will have you to employ others to do maintenance and, if so, can you afford it? These might be uncomfortable questions but they are absolutely essential if you’re going to take the plunge of keeping the house by yourself.

It’s also critical that both parties understand keeping the house in one party’s name might be a decision out of their control. For instance, even if you decide that you’re emotionally and financially ready for the task, a bank may decide not to refinance a mortgage in only one person’s name. After all, your significant other is likely listed on the loan and a bank may not be willing to take the risk of losing the one income.

Another issue to consider is whether there are enough other marital assets that can be used to buy out the other spouse’s interest in the house. And if the house is upside down you have to decide which party will bear the burden of that and if there are enough other assets to fairly allocate the debt burden. Even if there are enough other assets, it’s important to consider whether such a large real estate investment is prudent. Though real estate used to be a sure fire way of minting money, that’s no longer the case. It might be better in some cases to hold on to a retirement account and watch that grow then cling to a money-losing piece of property.

Though most people are emotionally attached to their homes, it may not always be the right move to try and hold onto the property. The instinct is understandable, but it’s crucial that anyone going through a divorce thinks through all the issues raised by keeping the house and make an informed decision.

If you find yourself facing the prospect of complicated divorce and have questions about your rights and options, contact an experienced Ohio family law attorney who can help guide you through the difficult process. Count on the expertise of Twinsburg family law attorney Carol L. Stephan.

Source: Keeping The House After Divorce,” by Kathleen Connell, published at  

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