How do you divide a house?

Often times it is difficult to let go of things that hold sentimental value to you. When you are dissolving your marriage you are forced to make several emotional decisions. You may be faced with the thorny decision of what to do with the family residence. It might be the first home that you and your spouse purchased, it might be the home that you brought your children home to from the hospital; or maybe you raised your family in the home and watched them spread their wings as they left for college.   Inevitably, the decision of what to do with the marital residence may be complex but as with most complicated matters you can survive the process. The goal is to survive while also making smart financial decisions for your future.

The acquisition of real property is most often the best investment made during a marriage. Both of you stand to benefit if the two of you can work together to protect your investment.   First, the two of you must decide whether one of you can afford to maintain the residence independently. If one party can afford to retain and maintain the home without financial assistance from the other then you can focus your energy on refinancing the applicable loan to remove the other party from the liability. The party retaining the home must then be able compensate the other party for their share of the property value. In instances where one party can not afford to do this, then the home is typically sold so each party can go their separate way.

Once the decision is made to sell the residence there is a laundry list of matters that must be agreed upon. For example:

-Who will the listing agent be?

-When do we put the home on the market?

-Do we have a checklist of tasks that are necessary to prepare the home for showing, such as minor repairs, cleaning, painting, new carpet, staging?

-How will we handle offers that are made on the property?

-How are the sale proceeds divided between us?

Tackling the difficult decision of what to do with the marital residence is but one of the challenges you will face as you dissolve your marriage. The real challenge is whether you can work together to make savvy decisions that will protect both of your financial futures.


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