For many people, real estate is the biggest purchase they make in their life. Many Americans will spend the majority of their working years paying off the mortgage on the house that they share with their family.
If you find yourself facing an imminent divorce, you might reasonably worry about the amount of money your home represents and whether or not you can keep your investments in the house. As with many things in a divorce, asset division, including how the courts handle the home itself, is not a winner-take-all process. Instead, the goal is a fair outcome, which means there is plenty of room for creative solutions and nuance.
If you feel like you want to keep the home, before you start strategizing for your divorce, you should ask yourself some important questions.
Do you want the house itself or just the money it represents?
Given the cost involved in purchasing and maintaining a home, it can be difficult to separate those costs and investment from the property itself. However, when you feel a desire to keep the house, it’s important to explore those emotions before you act on them.
In some cases, it could be an attachment to the neighborhood or to your memories that makes you want to retain the house. Whether or not you live there, you can continue to have friendships with your neighbors and possibly even keep your kids in the same school district.
What you need to determine is whether you actually want to live in the house that you used to share with your ex or if you just worry about losing out on the value accumulated in the property during your marriage.
The courts aren’t going to give one spouse the house and the other nothing
While almost everyone has heard a horror story from someone who recently divorced and feels that the outcome was unfair, many people exaggerate or misrepresent their situation in order to elicit sympathy.
It would be unusual for the courts to outright give the home to one spouse without compensating the other for at least a portion of its value, as Connecticut applies equitable distribution rules to your shared marital property. It is common for the spouse who stays in the family home to need to refinance in order to cash out some of their equity for the benefit of their ex.
Can you afford and maintain the property on your own?
If the courts do rule in your favor, do you think it’s feasible that you will be able to secure a mortgage and make the necessary payments on the property? Even if you can afford the house, have you thought about the amount of work that goes into cleaning and maintaining both the interior and exterior of a home?
Depending on your situation, it may be better to take your share of the equity and purchase a new property that will meet your needs rather than fighting for the marital home.