Downed housing market raises questions in divorce proceedings

Who acquires what is a common question and area of stress for many going through a divorce. In the past it used to be that family homes were the largest asset in a divorce, but now with a downed housing market, the person who gets the home may also be the person with the largest financial burden.

Because of this, couples who are going through a divorce are finding themselves with questions that most didn’t have years prior. Is it best to just hold on to the house and hope the market gets better in the future? Or does it make more sense to just sell the house now and both move out? And in situations where money is an issue for both the husband and wife, is there a way to continue living together under the same roof as a way to save money, even after the divorce?

The first thing to look at is whether or not it even makes sense to keep the house, and if so who will be in charge of the bills. According to sources, there are some situations where an ex-husband will still be mowing the lawn at his old house, just because he doesn’t want to pay for getting it done. To make sure that one person isn’t stuck paying for a home that he or she doesn’t even live in, it’s important to first decide if the house is even worth keeping.

Along those same lines, if a house is close to foreclosure, it might make more financial sense for a couple to just cut their losses and go for a short sale.

But in situations where a couple agrees that they want to keep the house, but know that after the divorce it will not be financially feasible for each person to live on their own, a couple can decide to stay living together in the same home after the divorce. However, this decision should only be made if the exes really can get along, and the two should sit down and communicate all expectations related to child care, bills and dating others in the future.

In general, property division- especially when it comes to the family home – can be frustrating, but it’s important to not make decisions based on emotions, but to rather make decisions based on what would be the best financially.

Source: AOL Real Estate, “Five Real Estate Questions for Divorcing Couples,” Catherine New, 8 April 2011

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