Many divorcing couples jointly own a house together. The jointly owned home is likely to have been an important and heavy financial investment for both parties that holds a lot of strong emotions and memories. Thus, the issue of who gets to keep the home after the divorce can often become a contentious battle. Some people become obsessed and determined to remain in the home as the sole owner of the property. However, before becoming determined to fight over the home, the matter should be carefully considered.
To begin, the fight over the home may become an extremely difficult legal battle, generating huge attorney fees. While most attorneys are more than willing to go to battle for you, a good attorney will do their best to guide you on the best course of action that will be financially sound for your budget and appropriate for your mental health. Additionally, from a practical standpoint, it is important to remember that a home, although a great financial investment, is still a huge financial burden.
The person who keeps the home may have to refinance the property solely in their name. This can be expensive and may not even be a possibility for some people. Moreover, beyond the additional burden of changing the title and possibly refinancing, there is the basic expenses of maintaining a home.
Whoever keeps the home in the divorce will take on the responsibility of paying for the general maintenance and upkeep of the home. On the low end, just for basic home maintenance, the US News and Freddie Mac suggests a homebuyer should budget 4% of the property value for annual maintenance expenses. For example, if your home is worth $300,000, expect to pay $12,000 a year just in basic maintenance, or $1,000 a month. However, there is a lot more to the cost of owning a home than just the basic maintenance expenses. Beyond the upkeep, the person keeping the home will likely have to pay all the mortgage, property taxes, various homeowner insurances, landscaping expenses, water and sewage bills, trash bills, heating and electric bills, upkeep and replacement of appliances, and any HOA fees. All these expenses should be considered (and compared to an apartment or different home) before deciding to fight for the marital home in a divorce proceeding. And don’t forget, as the home ages, all of these expenses will likely increase.
In general, when making the decision of what property to seek possession of when filing for divorce, it is important to consider both need and affordability, while doing your best to remove sentimental and emotional attachment from the equation. It is also important to keep any anger or spite from factoring in. An attorney can help you through this process, while also having your best interest in mind and guiding you through all the important questions and factors to consider. At the Barnds Law Firm, we have guided hundreds of clients through this difficult process and are happy to help you. Call us today to set up your consultation.