One of your major assets is likely your home. Along with the rest of your assets, you are probably wondering what will happen to your marital home when you get a divorce. What if you want to keep the house? What if you don’t? There are many questions related to your marital home and what is best when it comes to the home in divorce. On this page, I will discuss many of the issues related to splitting up your marital home in divorce. For more assistance, please contact my office.
What Can Happen to the Marital Home in Divorce?
During a divorce, you and your spouse will have to divide your assets. The division of assets differs from state to state, but big assets such as houses, other cars, and vehicles might be a big concern for you. What will you be allowed to keep, and what is your spouse entitled to? Generally, both spouses have equal right to the house because they purchased the home together while married and share the mortgage. As a result, you and your spouse both have claims to the house. Even if your name is not on the title and/or the mortgage, you still have a claim to the marital home.
Keeping the Home
Keep in mind that it is not always necessary to sell your house when you file for divorce. You have other options that you should discuss with your spouse as well as your attorney. A house is a major asset, and you might want to hold onto it because it can be a source of comfort and stability, even through the difficulty of a divorce. If you decide that you want to keep your house, you have a few options.
Firstly, you can try to buy out your ex’s share in the house. If you do this, then the house will legally belong to you and you can decide to keep it or sell it in the future, depending on the real estate market and your personal feelings about the house.
If you can afford to buy your ex’s share, if they are willing to sell you their share, and if you really want to keep the house, this might be your best option. However, keep in mind that if you keep the house, you will have to maintain it by yourself. You should seriously ask yourself if you can afford to maintain the house before trying to buy out your ex.
An alternative to buying your spouse’s share of the house is to continue to own the house jointly. If you are on good terms with your spouse and want to hold off on selling the house, you can continue to own jointly for as long as you want. Eventually you might want to sell your share in the house –either to your ex or to a third party – or you can save up the money to buy your ex’s share in the house. Keep in mind that it can be difficult to own property with your ex. Questions such as who gets to live in the house or who should maintain the house might arise.
Selling the Home
If you decide that you do not want to keep your house, the home can be placed on the market and the proceeds can be divided between you and your spouse. The division is not always equal, but depends on the remaining portions of the divorce. If you are on good terms with your ex, you can discuss these options with them.
If you would rather have your lawyer discuss these options with your ex, you can do that as well. Try to make the most logical decision when considering what to do with your house during a divorce. Make sure that you can afford to keep the house if you decide that that is what you want to do. Try to work out a plan that will benefit you and your ex, but if you can’t, hire a lawyer to help you.
House Title vs. Mortgage
House titles and mortgages – they seem pretty simple, right? Some people use these words interchangeably, and while they are similar, they are in fact different entities. If you are interested in buying a home, or if you are reviewing your mortgage as a result of a recent divorce, it is important to understand the distinctions between these two terms. Knowing these distinctions will help you make an informed decision, especially if you are in the midst of splitting up property with your ex.
In many cases, when a couple buys a house, the name on the house title (or deed) is the same as the name on the mortgage. In most cases, couples that buy a home together have their names listed on both the mortgage and the deed. However, there are some situations when this is not the case, and someone is listed on the mortgage but not on the house title. If this is the case and you and your spouse have divorced, it could complicate your situation.
A mortgage differs from a house title because it determines who is responsible for paying the loan on the house, not necessarily who owns the property.
Titles or deeds are in charge of the property itself. A house title is not a sales contract, rather, it is a legal document describing the property in question. For example, a deed will cover:
- The lot number.
- The name of the person selling the piece of real estate.
- The name of the person buying the piece of real estate.
A house title or deed establishes who owns the property in question. Different deeds are used in different situations. For example, when unrelated people transfer ownership of property (when a person sells a house and another person buys that house), a warranty deed is used. If property is transferred from related parties, for example, from a father to son, a different type of deed is used.
If you are unable to pay for your home in full as soon as you purchase it, you will have a mortgage on your house. Mortgages are extremely common, and they allow homeowners to pay back their loans over time. In exchange for the loan, the lender usually requires collateral. In many cases, the house itself will act as collateral. This means that if you are unable to repay your loan, the money lender will have the rights to your house. A mortgage differs from a house title because it determines who is responsible for paying the loan on the house, not necessarily who owns the property.
Problems with Divorce
If you own a house with your ex, and you are listed on the mortgage but not on the deed, you do not have the right to the house or property BUT you will be required to pay the loan. This is a common issue that arises if someone co-signs a loan but is not listed on the deed itself. When both parties listed on the mortgage are getting along, this does not present a problem. However, if the couple divorces or the two parties have a falling out, both parties are still required to pay the mortgage but one of them may not have the rights to the home.
An appraisal is an estimate made of your property’s market value (remember, you need to know the market value to figure out your home equity!). An appraisal is done by an appraiser (makes sense) and the figure that the appraiser comes up with is based on sale prices for similar houses in your area, as well as the condition that your property is in. An appraiser will determine the market value of your property based on:
- Income approach: The income approach isn’t generally used for residential properties, but it is still worthwhile to understand. The income approach works by determining the net income of the property and using this to estimate the property’s value.
- Comparison approach: Much like I mentioned above, the comparison approach takes into consideration selling prices of properties that are similar to yours. Obviously, your house will probably differ in some ways from the houses and properties taken into account during the comparison, but the appraiser takes these differences into consideration.
- Cost approach: This approach makes an estimation of the improvements that have been made on the property. This estimation is added to the value of the property to determine the full value.
The lender will hire an appraiser and use their estimations to decide on a loan that is appropriate. The lender does this so that they can have an unbiased estimation of the property’s value before deciding to make a loan. You can have your house appraised by an appraiser that you hire, but a lender probably won’t use your appraiser’s estimates. They will want to have their own appraisal done.
There aren’t too many ways that you can prepare for an appraisal. The only thing that you can really do is make sure that if you’re having maintenance done on your property, it is complete by the time the appraiser comes. Informing the appraiser of renovations and home improvements that you have made can help to increase the market value decided on. Providing assistance to the appraiser is also a good idea. Touring the property with them will give you the chance to explain the features of the property (both good and bad) and answer any questions that the appraiser might have.
What If The House Is Only In My Spouse’s Name?
Even if only your spouse’s name is on the deed, you have a legal right to occupy that home for as long as the two of you are married. The trouble occurs if you and your spouse decide to get a divorce. If your name is not on the deed of your home, you do not have a legal right to the property. However, this does not mean that all is lost. In many cases, equity is still split between both parties, even if your name is not on the deed.
If you are about to get a divorce and you realize that your name is not on the house title, you should be proactive. If you lived in the house, you should file a Notice of Home Rights with the Land Registry. This will ensure that your spouse doesn’t try to sell the house without letting you know. While you are still married, you have the right to know what is happening with the property, and it cannot be sold without your consent.
Even if only your spouse’s name is on the deed, you have a legal right to occupy that home for as long as the two of you are married. Unfortunately, once you are divorced, if your name is not on the house title, you will not have a legal right to the house. However, you can fight for half of the home equity. Chances are that you will want a fresh start after your divorce, so even if you are unable to live in your old home, it might be a blessing in disguise, as it will help you close that chapter in your life and begin the next one.
How Will My House be Divided?
The division of major assets such as your house will depend on if it is considered individual or communal property.
Individual property is property that is only yours. Your spouse doesn’t have a claim to individual property. What constitutes individual property? Assets that were 1) purchased before the marriage or 2) assets that are gifts/inheritance given solely to you are considered individual property. So, for example, if you bought a home before you got married with your individual funds, the house would be considered your individual property.
Likewise, if the home you live in was given to you alone as inheritance, the house is your individual property. If you and your spouse bought your home together over the course of your marriage, and both of your names are on the title deed and the mortgage, the house will be considered communal or marital property.
In most cases, marital property will be split 50/50. Since you both put money into the house, you are both entitled to the property. If only your name is on the title deed, but you bought the house over the course of your marriage and you and your spouse lived in the home as a marital residence, this gives your spouse some claim to the home. This does not mean that your spouse is entitled to the money that you will get if you sell the house, but it does mean that you cannot force your spouse out of the house or sell the home without telling your spouse, so long as you are still legally married.
Buying a Home After Your Divorce
If you are moving due to your divorce, and you’ve followed my house hunting checklist, you’re ready to take the next few steps in buying a home. Narrowing down the search for the right property can be difficult, which is why I have come up with some tips to help you find your dream home and take the steps necessary to buy it.
Finding the Right Home
Once you have an idea of the home you are looking for, you can begin looking at properties. Hiring a real estate agent can be extremely helpful with this process. A real estate agent has the connections and knowledge to find the type of properties that you are looking for in your price range. When you go to look at properties, make sure that you consider the condition of the home. Consider the following features of each home you visit:
- The condition of the yard.
- Damage to the foundation or structure.
- Water stains.
- The condition of the plumbing.
- Landscaping around the property.
- Peeling paint or chipped paint.
- The state of the appliances.
- Weatherproofing on doors.
- Natural lighting in the home.
- The condition of the windows, floors, and ceiling.
- Hardwood floors and carpeting.
- The condition of the roof.
- Cracks in the walkway and the driveway.
- Electrical, air conditioning, security, heating, sewer, insulation, water systems, and more in the home.
Many of these features can be easily fixed, but it is important to make note of the work that you will have to do on the home if you choose to buy it.
Buying the Right Home
If you’ve found your dream home and you are interested in buying it, you should follow these steps:
- Hire a real estate lawyer. The first step in buying your home is hiring a real estate lawyer. A lawyer can help you negotiate the cost of the home, make sure that any issues are easily worked out, and represent you at the closing.
- Meet with a mortgage broker or lender to discuss your mortgage loan.
- Make an offer on the home. If necessary, make a counter offer.
- Schedule a home inspection. This will ensure that there are no hidden issues with the property.
- Conduct a final walk through. This will be your last chance to change your mind or continue your negotiations.
- Schedule the closing. At the closing, you will sign documents and officially own the home!
Removing Your Name From a Mortgage
If you’re facing a divorce, what you’re really looking for is a fresh start. However, it can be hard to do this when you and your spouse have joint finances. One of the most frustrating finances to try to split up is your mortgage. But don’t worry! There are several options out there for splitting up the mortgage during or after a divorce. If you’re searching for these options, you’ve come to the right place.
There’s no doubt about it –divorce is hard. But don’t make it harder than it has to be. If you’re facing divorce and you need to figure out how to remove your name from a joint mortgage, it is in your best interest to contact a divorce lawyer and a real estate lawyer.
There are three main ways that you can get your name taken off of the mortgage you have with your ex – refinancing the home, selling the home, or getting your name removed through the use of an assumed loan. Let’s dig deeper into these options.
Option Number One
Refinancing the home is a good option because it will ensure that your name will be completely removed from the mortgage. Refinancing the home allows the loan to be taken on by one spouse. You’ll qualify for refinancing your home if:
- You and your ex are not behind on your mortgage payments.
- You or your ex has good credit and a good income (this will help you qualify for the refinancing).
- The spouse that is getting out of the mortgage agrees to let the house go.
The major problem that people run into when trying to refinance the home is taking on the burden of the mortgage on their own. In order for refinancing the home to work, one spouse has to be in good enough financial standing to assume the responsibility of the house on their own.
Option Number Two
Selling your house is the easiest way to break up the mortgage. If you sell the house, you and your ex can pay off the mortgage separately and move on with your lives. If you’re looking for a fresh start, you’re probably interested in moving out of the house anyway, in order to close that chapter in your life. If you’re trying to sell your house but potential buyers just aren’t biting, it’s in your best interest to contact a real estate lawyer. A real estate lawyer can review your options with you and make this process as painless as possible.
Option Number Three
If you want to keep your house but refinancing the home is not right for you, you can consider getting a loan assumption. A loan assumption will allow one spouse to assume the mortgage. Just as in refinancing, this spouse will have to prove that they are in good financial standings.
House Hunting After a Divorce
Use this checklist to get a good idea of what kind of home you should look for in your home search.
- Determine how much you can afford. Chances are that your financial situation will change once you get divorced. Start thinking about what type of home and mortgage you can afford based on your new financial situation.
- Think about what you need. Many people use a divorce as an opportunity to downgrade. Will your children be living with you full time, or can you afford to downgrade the number of bedrooms in your home? Do you need a lot of storage space, or are you parting with certain possessions during your divorce that will free up room? If you want to downgrade to a smaller home or even an apartment, you will have new options to consider.
Ask Yourself Questions
- What are your deal breakers? Are there some features that you simply need your home to have? For example, start considering how many bedrooms and bathrooms you must have. Also consider other features, such as school districts, convenience to train stations or airports if you travel frequently, and more.
- What can you part with? Make a list of all of the things that you want your dream home to have. Then, start whittling away at it. Of course you want your home to be as close to your dream home as possible, but you should start thinking about features that you are willing to compromise on. Don’t give up a great house just because it doesn’t have everything on your wish list!
- Consider fixing up a home or remodeling. You should figure out if you are willing to make repairs on your home in order to get a good price on a home. If you are handy or you are willing to pay for someone to remodel the home, this might be a way to get a good price on a home with a good foundation.
- Hire a real estate agent to assist you. The last thing that you need after a stressful divorce is to be overwhelmed with the house hunting search. Hiring a real estate agent to help you find homes can take the burden off of you and help you make this process as easy as possible.
- Before you start house hunting, it is a good idea to understand what you are looking for in a home.
Home Equity and Divorce
If you’re trying to figure out what you are entitled to in terms of home equity, let’s take a look at some of the different scenarios that you might be in.
The House is Communal Property
This is probably the simplest case of splitting home equity. If you and your spouse bought the home together, for example, using a joint account, it will be considered communal or marital property. In this case, you and your spouse will split the home equity equally. For example, if the home equity is $80,000, you will each get $40,000.
Dividing home equity will depend on a lot of different variables. Each case is truly unique depending on what factors you brought to your marriage and buying your house.
Keep in mind that even if the house is communal property the couple can agree to split the equity unequally. For example, if you want $50,000 out of the $80,000, you may have it so long as your spouse is willing to give it to you. You and your spouse must sign a written agreement to split the equity unequally if it is something that you both want.
The House is Separate Property
If only one spouse bought the house, and the purchase of the home had nothing to do with the marriage, the house will probably be considered separate property. This might be the case if:
- The house was bought by one party before the marriage.
- The house was bought by one party after the marriage.
- Your house was a gift/inheritance given to one spouse.
Your Name is Not on the House Title
If your name isn’t on the house title (or deed), you will not be entitled to the house itself upon divorce. However, a good divorce lawyer could still make sure that you are entitled to at least some of the home equity in some circumstances. For example, if you did not pay for the home and your name is not on the deed, but the house was purchased during your marriage and it was you and your spouse’s main marital home, it might be considered communal property. This gives you some entitlement to what the property is worth. But again, actually getting some of the home equity will depend on your personal situation – it isn’t guaranteed.
Calculating Home Equity
Calculating your home equity is simple. You just need to use a basic formula to determine how much equity is in your home. All you really need to know in order to determine your home equity is 1) the market value of your home and 2) the outstanding mortgages and/or liens on your home. Just subtract the outstanding mortgage/liens from the market value, and you’ve got your home equity. So, for example, if the market price of your home is $250,000 and $100,000 left on your mortgage, your home equity is $150,000. So easy, you could calculate this with your eyes closed!
But there is one catch. Home equity does fluctuate depending on changes in market prices, the value of your home, and the terms of your specific mortgage. Your home equity today is probably not the same as it was last year. And it’s probably not the same as it will be 5 years from now.
To determine your home equity, subtract your outstanding mortgage/liens from the market value
Increasing Home Equity
There are a few ways to increase your home equity. These include:
- Paying off your mortgage. This is the simplest way to increase your home equity. Obviously, the less money you’re subtracting from the market value of your home, the greater the home equity will be. This makes sense. When you own 100% of your home, you’ll receive 100% of the equity.
- Home improvements. If you make home improvements that increase the value of your home, it will increase the market value. Be careful though. In order to make these improvements, you’ll have to spend money. In the long run, it might not be worth it. If you’re going to make renovations to your home, make sure that they are renovations that just bring you up to the level that the other houses in your neighborhood are at.
- Increase property value. You don’t have to do anything to increase your property value – it just happens. If property values in the area increase, the market value will increase automatically.
Hiring a Realtor
There are many reasons to hire a realtor to help you through the house buying and selling process. If you are in the midst of a divorce or just finalizing a divorce, consider:
- Avoiding added stress. Hiring a realtor will mean that you are not solely responsible for house hunting and selling your current home. While dealing with a divorce, having someone else who is on your side and taking care of real estate for you can be a huge help.
- Doing it right. When selling your home and finding a new place to live, you want to make this decision carefully. Instead of rushing into a new home or taking the first offer that comes your way on your property, you need the assistance of someone who has experience with real estate and can help you make the right decisions.
- You have a better chance of finding your dream home. Realtors have contacts in the real estate world. They can help you determine what you are really searching for and find it. Finding a home is a big decision, and a real estate agent can help you make the right one.
Who to Hire
When hiring a realtor, you should consider the following characteristics:
- Even if you hire a realtor who has only been in business for a few years, they should have experience working with clients and helping them buy or sell their homes. In addition, the real estate agent should have contacts in the industry that you can benefit from.
- Comfort level. You should only hire a real estate agent that you feel comfortable with. You have to be able to trust your realtor, tell them what you truly want, and communicate with this person. If you do not believe that the realtor has your best interest at heart, you should not hire they.
- Understanding of the market. Your real estate agent should be knowledgeable about the current market and the area that you live in. This will help you determine the best asking price for your current home and what you should pay for your new home.
Hiring a Real Estate Attorney
While you might be skeptical about hiring yet another lawyer now that your divorce is over, hiring a real estate lawyer to help you through this process can help you in the long run. There are many reasons to hire a real estate lawyer if you are moving. A few of the top ones are:
- Help with negotiations. When you are buying a new home, you will have to deal with a lot of contracts and paperwork. A real estate lawyer can catch issues within these legal documents and negotiate them for you due to their experience and knowledge of real estate law. A real estate agent will be qualified to help you with legal matters and make sure that your best interest is being served.
- Problem solving. Negotiations will only work if both parties can reach a compromise. To ensure that this happens, you need someone who is dedicated to working through issues and coming up with solutions to them. A real estate attorney can help you bypass problems and make sure that you are able to buy a new home as smoothly as possible.
- Help with the closing. The closing is the last step in your house-buying process. You want to have an attorney present at the closing to attend to any last minute issues and give you advice about the contracts and documents that you are signing. Having a real estate lawyer present at the closing will give you peace of mind as you take this big step in your life.
Who to Hire
If you have determined that you want to hire a real estate lawyer to help you with your real estate needs, you need to make sure that you find the right one. Not all lawyers will be the right fit for you. Consider hiring a lawyer that has the following characteristics if you are seriously interested in finding one who can:
- Help with negotiations. Buying a new home can quickly become an expensive process. But not all lawyers are unaffordable – in fact, a lot of great lawyers will work with you to make sure that you can afford their services. Make sure you look for a lawyer who charges a flat fee so that there are no hidden costs.
- Offer free consultations. Going along with the theme of affordability, you should try to find a real estate agent that offers a free consultation. You can meet with the attorney free of charge to determine if you will work well together.
- Provide great credentials. Consider how long the attorney that you are considering hiring has been a real estate lawyer. Ask them how they can specifically help you given your situation. This will help you make sure that you find a knowledgeable, qualified lawyer.
Checklist for Selling Your Home
If you want to sell your home and move after a divorce, there are many different things that you can do to improve the value of your home and help it to sell easier. Before you put your home on the market, consider making these changes in order to help your home sell!
- Conduct a pre-listing inspection. To get a good idea of what problems you will have when selling, you should have a pre-listing inspection conducted on your home. A buyer’s inspection will find these issues anyway, so why not be proactive, learn about these issues, and fix them before you sell your home?
- Make small changes. You don’t have to spend thousands of dollars on remodeling your home to make sure that it is ready for the selling process. Instead, focus on small, easily fixable issues. For example, you can repair cracks in molding or walkways, touch up the paint job, polish your landscaping, etc. for an affordable fee. These do it yourself projects can make a big difference when it comes to showing your home.
- Clean your home. In order to get your home ready for showing, you should clean out the house so that it doesn’t seem cluttered. Put excess furniture, knickknacks, and other items in storage or sell them. This will make your house seem more spacious to potential buyers.
- Set a price. Once you make all of the changes that you want to to your home and you are ready to sell, it is time to set an asking price. You should do some research to see what houses that are comparable to yours sell for to determine a good asking price. A real estate agent can also help you figure out a fair asking price by using their knowledge of the market. Make sure that you consider factors such as the season that you are selling in, the current market, your neighborhood, and more when setting an asking price.
- Decide if you are going to work with a real estate agent or not. A real estate agent can be a big help when it comes to selling your home. They can get your home ready for showing, set up open houses, and help you set an asking price. Having a professional take care of these aspects of the selling process can make the process much easier for you. However, if you ultimately decide to sell on your own, you should understand that you will have to do a lot more research and work yourself to help your home sell.
- Talk to a lawyer. You should seriously consider hiring a lawyer to help you with the closing on your property. This can ensure that you get treated fairly by those interested in buying your home.
Coping with New Living Arrangements
Your children might have a difficult time coping with you and your spouse’s divorce. If this is the case, they could express many different emotions, such as anger and sadness. This emotional experience could lead your children to make rash decisions or say things that they don’t mean. If possible, when discussing where your children should live, it is best to sit down with your spouse and all of your children. As a family, try to make this decision to determine what is best for your children. In most cases, your children will have the opportunity to live with both you and your ex at different times, so express this to your children.
Helping Your Children
Here are some tips to incorporate into this conversation:
- If a judge has made a decision about custody, explain this decision to your children.
- If this decision has yet to be made, talk to your children and ask what they would like and why. Maybe it will be easier for your children to stay with your spouse so that they can stay in the same school district. Or maybe moving to a new state or home will give your children the fresh start that they need. Talk these options out with your children and listen to what they have to say.
- Understand that your children might be emotional. They might say things that they don’t mean because they feel overwhelmed by the divorce. If your children express the desire to live with your ex, try not to take this personally. Your children might just need some time to heal from the divorce.
- Allow your children to think about it. A decision does not have to occur immediately. Allow your children to consider their options.
- Be honest about the divorce. Be honest with your children about how you and your spouse feel and the living arrangements that you think are best.
- Make it clear that you and your ex still love your children. At this time, your children might need validation and reassurance that they are still loved by you and your ex.
Removing Your Name from a Mortgage After Divorce
Some common reasons for someone to remain in their marital house after divorce are:
- Maintaining routine for the children.
- Convenient location of the house.
- Can afford to buy out ex-spouse.
- Want to maintain standard of living.
If you will remain living in your marital home after the divorce and it is your spouse who is moving out, you will be responsible for the home. In most cases, if a spouse moves out of the house, they will no longer pay toward the mortgage. Instead, they will receive their share of home equity and interest from the home. So, if you decide to continue living in your house, you will probably have to take on full responsibility of the mortgage.
Your circumstances after divorce will determine if it is in your best interest to keep your name on the mortgage or not.
Are You Moving?
After divorce, many people want a fresh start. Oftentimes, turning a new leaf means finding a new place to live not filled with memories from the marriage. If you are moving out of the marital home, there’s really no reason for you to continue paying a mortgage on the house. If you and your spouse are moving, you can split the home equity and whatever you sell the house for. Or, if your spouse is remaining in the marital house, they can buy you out and you can have your name removed from the mortgage.
Is Your Spouse Remaining in the Marital Home?
In some cases, you might want to help your spouse pay off the marital home if they choose to continue living there. If you want to help your spouse with payments, you can leave your name on the mortgage, but be aware that this means you will be making payments toward that house.
If you decide to rent an apartment after your divorce, you will likely have to deal with exclusive possession. When a lease is granted by a landlord, it is for a fixed amount of time. For example, you might sign a lease for one year, 18 months, or longer. The length of time covered in a lease will differ, but in general, they tend to last for one year. When you sign a lease, you will have the right to exclusive possession. This means that as a tenant:
- You have full possession of the rented property.
- You have full or partial use of the rented property.
- Also, you can use the property without interruption for as long as the lease lasts.
Breaking the Lease
Of course, if you break your lease because you do not follow the terms and conditions, a landlord can revoke your right to exclusive possession. This will depend on your individual circumstances and individual lease. Therefore, following your lease completely is essential to a happy renting experience.
Relocating After Divorce
For some people, going through a divorce is difficult and life changing enough. For others, it is an opportunity for a fresh start. If you seek a new beginning, this oftentimes means using the opportunity to relocate to a new home or even a new state. If you want to put the past in the past by letting go of the house you lived in during your marriage, relocating can be a good idea. In the next few weeks, I will discuss how you can go about selling your home and finding a new one.
Pros of Moving
After a divorce, there are many different reasons to move out of your marital home. Some of the most common reasons include:
- Fresh start. One way to move on from your marriage and begin the next chapter in your life is by moving out of the house that you lived in while you were married.
- Moving to a new location. After a divorce, you might move to a drastically different location for many different reasons. Maybe you are going back to work, and you have a job offer in another state. Or perhaps you are looking to further your education at a university that is out-of-state. Or, maybe you just want to move closer to your family and friends and improve these relationships. Whatever the reason, you might have to move out-of-state, in which case, you should sell your home.
- You can’t afford to keep the home. Without two incomes, you might not be able to afford to pay the mortgage on your marital home. This will mean that you have to move.
- Your spouse is keeping the house. You might not have a claim on your marital home, or you may have determined that it is better for your spouse to continue living there. If this is the case, you will have to find a new home.
Cons of Moving
While there are many advantages to moving out of your marital home after a divorce, there are also some reasons not to. Consider:
- Disrupting your children’s routine. A divorce alone will significantly alter your children’s routines. You might want to avoid moving so that you don’t overwhelm the children at this difficult time, especially if moving would mean changing schools.
- Moving away from your children. If you move, it will be more difficult for you to see your children, or it might be more difficult for your ex spouse to see the children. Keep this in mind before deciding to move.
Selling the House and Home Equity
A lot of people think that if they aren’t going to live in the house anymore, they don’t have a right to the home equity. However, it is important to keep in mind that you and your spouse accumulated that home equity over the course of your marriage.
Even if you decide not to live in that home anymore, you should still receive the equity you built over the course of your marriage. In fact, the spouse that wishes to remain in the marital home should be buying you out and giving you the interest/home equity that you’ve earned. Let’s take a look at two different scenarios to see what you should receive under the law.
Your Spouse Wants to Keep the House
So long as your name is on the title deed and the mortgage, your spouse will have to buy you out in order to keep the home. In some cases, you and your spouse can do this on your own, meaning you won’t have to take the case to court or even mediation. However, if you cannot settle on the value of the home and what your spouse will pay to buy you out, you should contact a divorce lawyer immediately. A divorce lawyer will ensure that you get a fair price.
If your spouse wants to keep the house, they will have to buy you out. Let’s consider that your home equity is $80,000. Whether you split the home equity equally or not, your spouse will owe you your share. For example, if you split the equity equally, you each receive $40,000. Your spouse will have to pay you your 50% of the equity in order to buy you out of the house. Whatever you are should receive in your home equity, your spouse will have to give you if they intend to keep the house. Check out this post for info on different ways to split home equity.
You are Going to Sell the House
If you and your spouse decide to sell your house, you will be in a similar situation. But, you will not get bought out by your spouse. Instead, the third party that is buying your house will pay you what the house is worth. Then, you will split it with your spouse. You will both walk away with the home equity that you deserve.