When keeping the house in divorce is a bad idea

Divorcing couples have certain hot-button topics, and custody of the kids and ownership of the family home are two common ones that prove to be sticking points. In the latter, sometimes fighting over the house can wind up being a pointless exercise in frustration.

Couples see preserving and remaining in the family home as a way to provide stability and continuity to their kids or even the spouses themselves, in some cases. But a home that you can ill afford to maintain and that may be difficult to sell in a shaky future market is more of an albatross than an asset.

Even when there is no mortgage attached to a property, keeping it in lieu of your share of other assets can be very unwise. Taking the money and running, not walking, away from a bad marriage and the family home is often a better choice.

Ex-spouses may assume that they will again have two incomes to cover expenses when they begin another relationship. But many new partners balk at moving into a home formerly shared by their love interest's ex. They may insist on living in a house unencumbered by the weight of a failed marriage. That asset can quickly become a liability.

"I can always rent it out"

Sometimes this might be said to justify keeping a house that would otherwise be unaffordable. But taking on the role of landlord is a lot of responsibility. Sure, you can hire a property manager, but that cuts into your profits. Ultimately, it is you who bears the liability of the home and keeping it maintained and rented to suitable tenants who won't inflict damages.

Keeping the house provides you with less liquidity during unstable times. A job loss, a serious illness or another crisis that affects your fiscal stability can be a disaster to homeowners, especially in a down real estate market.

Before agreeing to any settlement proposal, have your family law attorney review the offer and explore all possibilities ahead.

Source: Forbes, "House Regret: Among Divorcing Couples, The House Is Now A 'Hot Potato'," Marcelle Sussman Fischler, accessed Feb. 09, 2018

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