What to Do With the Family Home in a Divorce
Pennsylvania homes have appreciated by nearly 4% in the past year, creating some tough decisions for divorcing couples. Specifically, people are faced with the choice to fight for the family home or leave it. Generally, you have three options: try to fight to keep the home; let your ex-spouse stay, and be paid for your share; or sell the home, and divide the proceeds.
Will the Court Allow You to Stay?
The first thing to think about is whether the court will actually allow a person to stay in the home. Usually, a judge will want to ensure that there is as little upheaval as possible for the children. If they are accustomed to living in the home, the court will not want to make them move. That would not be in the best interests of the children. Accordingly, the parent who has physical custody of the children will have the best chance of keeping the family home.
Can You Afford It?
Moreover, both ex-spouses need to think very hard about whether they can afford the family home on their own after the divorce is final. There is a major difference between affording the mortgage on one income rather than two. It may still be a stretch even if you are receiving child support. The last thing that you would want is to become “house poor,” spending a majority of your income on housing with little to spare for anything else. These days, the ability to refinance your home at a lower interest rate could help with being able to afford the home.
When you are getting divorced, you are also balancing your short-term financial needs and your long-term plan. Things like retirement planning often take a short-term break while you get your financial feet under you after the divorce. However, you should factor in things like whether and when you will be able to retire. If keeping the home comes at the expense of your financial future, you should think hard about whether it is what you want.
Decisions About the Home Can Get Contentious
In addition, fighting to keep the family home would necessarily involve the word “fight.” This means that your divorce can end up in a hostile place. If you have children and need to co-parent, this could pose a long-term complication to a relationship that you need to preserve. While this is not to say that you should automatically surrender to what your ex-spouse wants in the name of harmony, you should recognize that it will come at a cost.
Finally, you need to weigh the factors of wanting to maintain continuity versus being better off with a fresh start. Some people may benefit from moving somewhere else, especially if staying in the same place will consume them with unpleasant memories. However, others may want to stay where they are because there would be too many changes for them to process.
In your particular case, you need to decide what is best for your specific situation. The one unchanging factor is that you need to be honest with yourself and realistic, both in terms of what you can afford and whether you can agree with your ex-spouse. You have multiple options that you need to consider while working together with your divorce attorney. Deciding to fight to keep the house can be stressful if that is your preferred course of action.
Although it may require some maneuvering, there is a way that both individuals can keep the home together, even after the divorce, in a collaborative manner. Before you decide on one course of action, consult with your divorce lawyer about the strength of your claim and whether there are any other possible solutions. Keeping or giving up the home may not necessarily be an either/or proposition.
To learn more about this and other issues affecting your legal case, contact a Jenkintown, PA, divorce lawyer at the Law Office of Joanne Kleiner at (215) 886-1266.
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