What to do with the house in a divorce

You're getting a divorce. Does that mean "divorcing" your home, too?

It might. As difficult as it sounds, the decision you need to make about keeping the house must be made logically and not emotionally. Here are some things you need to consider:

1. Is the house the most important thing you want?

You only have so much negotiating power or "leverage" in a divorce. You need to use it to negotiate for whatever matters to you the most. Since a house is a pretty big deal, you could easily lose most of your bargaining power by making that deal. It's time to prioritize.

2. Can you afford to keep the house?

Spousal support isn't necessarily a given. You need to sit down with a financial counselor to look at how far your income will really go. The mortgage isn't the only expense associated with a house, after all. You have upkeep, taxes, insurance and utility costs that are generally higher than you'd have in an apartment. All of that needs to be tallied and evaluated before you proceed.

3. Can you afford to buy out your spouse's share of the property?

Another financial consideration with your home is your ability to buy out your ex-spouse and get their name off the mortgage. You not only have to have enough credit and income to get a loan, but you also have to have the money it takes to give your spouse their share of the equity.

4. Is the house worth keeping?

If you're underwater on your mortgage because you bought when the market was more robust, you may not be able to refinance. It may be wiser to consider a short sale and other alternatives, instead.

There are numerous things to consider when you're dividing up the assets with your spouse. When you're in the midst of a divorce, it can be difficult to take the dispassionate view that's necessary to avoid mistakes. An experienced family law attorney can help.

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