Women and Divorce: Should I Keep The House?

Divorce can truly shake your foundation. Many women feel in such uncertain times keeping something known, like the family house, is important. But is that really the best option for you and your family going forward? The answer isn't always easy for women getting a divorce. There are a few big questions to ask yourself when you are making this important decision on whether you should ask for the house in the divorce settlement.

Women and Divorce: Why do you want to keep the house?

Make a thorough list of reasons you want to stay in the house. Maybe the reasons are practical; the house is near the kids' school and it is a great school, it is a good work commute so you will save on gas and time, it is close to other family that can help you out after the divorce. Make sure the list isn't dominated by only emotional or fear-based reasons. Sometimes women getting a divorce want to stay in the house because it reminds them of happier times spent together. Or starting over in a new house sound too daunting at the moment. There are other homes out there that you can create great memories as a family together. It is the people not the home that make a family.

Women and Divorce: Can you afford to keep the house?

Many women getting a divorce want to stay because they don't want to uproot the kids. It is important to think with finances first in mind though, not just with emotions. Kids will benefit more from not seeing their mom financially struggle than having a bigger bedroom. Children are resilient. First, you need to figure out how the expenses are going to change once you are single. On top of the mortgage payment each month you will also be fully responsible for real estate taxes, bills, utility costs, maintenance, landscaping and repairs. According to experts, you should use no more than 25-28% of your monthly income to pay housing expenses. What budget items are you prepared to cut in order to keep in that range? It is normal to feel a sentimental attachment to a house. But there could be other good options for you and your family. Maybe now would be a good time to downsize, ditch the pool you never use or simply start fresh in a new neighborhood.

Women and Divorce: What are some benefits of selling or not selling?

How much is the house currently worth if you sold it today? If you sell the house as a single person you can only exclude up to $250,000 of your capital gain from tax. But if a wife and husband sell the home jointly as part of the divorce settlement you can exclude up to $500,000 of gain. So depending on how much the house is worth and how long you're planning on staying, it might be a good idea to sell as part of the settlement as opposed to staying. Also refinancing a mortgage to get a spouse's name off the loan has costs, and there are additional costs of sale when you sell it. If you aren't staying long in the house, say just a couple of years until your child graduates from high school, these expenses will likely exceed the appreciation of the home in this short time. But if you plan on keeping the house for a long time it might be worth the costs to ask for it in the divorce and sell it later on. It is normal to feel a sentimental attachment to a house. It is important to weigh your housing options with finances in mind too, not just emotions. Michael Puhl of Puhl Law Group, P.C. is a board certified family law attorney who can guide you through complicated family law issues. He was recently selected to the Texas Super Lawyers list in 2016. Call 972-569-3166 for an appointment.    

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