Divorcing? How do you want to handle the family home?

| Apr 8, 2020 | Family Law, Marital Property, Non-marital Property |

There’s no doubt that divorce is a complicated and stressful endeavor. If you’re facing the possibility of marriage dissolution, then there’s a lot that you’re going to need to think through in order to protect your future. This is because divorce is much more than just an emotional affair. It’s also a massive financial transaction. If handled improperly, your most prized assets, whether it be a business, a farm, your retirement accounts, or a prized piece of personal property, could be stripped away from you.

This is why you need to be fully prepared before engaging in the property division process, and hopefully before you embark on the road to divorce to begin with. This means a few things. First, you need to know what property is in play, meaning you should know what property you and your spouse own and whether it is considered “marital property.” Then, you’ll need to prioritize which assets you want to fight for and develop arguments that demonstrate how your acquisition of those assets is fair.

At the top of the list for many people is the family home. After all, there are usually a lot of fond memories tied up in this residence, and those who intend on being custodial parents often want to keep the home in order to provide their children with a greater sense of stability. Yet, fighting for the home you’ve shared with your spouse may not be in your best interests. To know for sure, consider your options, which include:

  • Keeping the home in exchange for larger assets: Since Minnesota is an equitable distribution state, the division of marital property must be fair, but not necessarily equal. So, if you plan on keeping the family home, which is a valuable asset, then you’ll need to be prepared to give on other large assets like retirement accounts. Is that right for you? Maybe or maybe not.
  • Buying out your spouse: Another option is to buyout your spouse. This allows you to obtain the residence while avoiding losing out on other major assets as you would if you simply exchanged the house for those other assets. Of course, in order to purse this option you’ll need access to a significant amount of cash, which might be challenging. Also, with this option you’ll want to make sure you can afford to stay in the home considering you’ll only be living off of one income. Mortgage payments and maintenance costs can quickly overwhelm.
  • Co-owning the home with your ex-spouse: This may sound like a ridiculous idea, but the truth of the matter is that co-owning the home with your ex-spouse can make a lot of sense. It allows you to continue to build equity in the home, which allows you to reap more financially later down the road. It can also provide your children with more stability. However, keep in mind that you’ll still be contributing to the mortgage payments and the maintenance costs at a time when you might be living somewhere else. So, this option can be costly.
  • Selling the residence: This is probably the most commonly utilized option. Selling the family home provides many individuals with a sense of closure, and it allows them to more easily reach an equitable division by having a sale figure to work with. It eliminates future costs associated with keeping the home, too, which can free you up to focus on your new life post-divorce. Here, though, be wary of when you sell the residence, as the amount of time that you’ve owned the home and the market can all have a major impact on your finances.

As you can see, there are many options when it comes to dealing with the family home during the divorce process, and this is just one piece of the marriage dissolution picture. There are a whole host of other issues to deal with. If that leaves you stressed out, don’t worry. Competent family law attorneys can help guide you through the process, helping you fight for what you want every step of the way.

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