Given the way the housing market has heated up over the last several years, there’s a good chance that you’ve built up a lot of equity in your home. As a result, the marital residence may become a focal point of the property division process in your divorce.
In a lot of instances, people are aggressive in fighting to keep the marital home. Not only are they interested in the equity built into it but they might also have emotional attachments to the residence. This is understandable since many couples raise families in, make improvements to, and celebrate major life events in their home.
But even if fighting for the family residence seems like the right thing to do, you really need to ask yourself if doing so is in your best interest. Here are some of the risks of taking on the family home:
- Mortgage payments: Remember that you’re probably going from a two-income household to a single-income home. With less money coming in, you may find it difficult to make the mortgage payment each month. As a result, you might end up living paycheck to paycheck where one minor financial setback can leave you on uncertain financial footing.
- Upkeep: Your house is probably going to need maintenance over time, too. If your house is older, you may need to invest more in this upkeep. Some of the repairs that you have to make could be quite expensive, too. This might include correcting issues with your HVAC system, replacing the roof or dealing with a basement flood.
- Taxes: The taxes on your residence might be extensive, too, which can leave you financially strained. If your home continues to assess at increasingly higher rates, those taxes are only going to increase.
What options do you have?
If you’re worried about the financial entanglements associated with the marital home, you should take comfort knowing that you may have options that allow you to use the residence as leverage to secure marital assets that are better for you. Depending on the equity built into the house and your spouse’s ties to it, you may be able to use it to obtain:
- A lump sum cash payment
- A larger portion of retirement savings
- A more significant portion of personal property
- An increased amount of alimony
Deciding whether to forego the family home in exchange for some of these other financial options can be a difficult choice to make. Therefore, before jumping toward a decision, you should carefully analyze both your short-term and long-term financial needs.
Regardless of the position that you want to take on the family home, you have to know how to properly negotiate for the resolution that you want. This means not only knowing what your goals are but also identifying what your spouse wants out of the process. That way, you can use certain marital assets as leverage to convince your spouse to give up what you want in exchange for what they want. This can be difficult, especially when a spouse doesn’t really know what they want, but with solid preparation, you can come up with a negotiation strategy that positions you for success.
Legal help is here if you need it
The outcome of your divorce can affect your financial standing for years to come. That creates a lot of pressure. And you certainly don’t want to fold under that pressure. That’s why as you navigate your divorce, you might want to consider having an aggressive legal advocate by your side who can help you fight for the outcome that will best position you for post-divorce success.