what happens when both spouses want to keep the house

What if both my spouse and I want to keep the house?

March 8, 2021 8:12 pm Published by Leave your thoughts

Of all the assets a couple owns, the house is typically the biggest and most valuable. Add to that the countless memories made at a home and the potential for large gains as property values increase, and it’s no wonder the house is a typically a point of contention in a divorce.

If you and your spouse both want to keep the house, you’ll find yourself going down a potentially complicated court process. Regardless, it might make sense to pursue if you’ve put more work into the home, have clear reasons for wanting to stay, or are willing to forego other assets.

Here are some tips on how to navigate coming to an agreement with your spouse and what the implications are of potentially going to court over it.

Circumstances In Which You Should Consider Keeping The House

The Kids

If you’ll be the sole or primary caretaker of the children, then it might make more sense for you to keep the home so the kids can stay in the same school district. Another reason to keep the kids in the home is to avoid unnecessary stress on them.

Attachments

Your home is where many memories – good and bad – have been formed. If the good outweighs the bad you might want to keep the house to maintain some normalcy for yourself. An attachment is an understandable and relatable reason for someone to keep the home.

Affordability

If you and your ex both want the home, it might make more sense for the person who can better afford it to purchase it from the other spouse and split the equity. When you consider whether you can afford the home, be sure to consider maintenance (on average about 2% of the cost of the home annually), property taxes, and insurance, in addition to the mortgage payment.

You’ll also want to consider any updates the house will be needing. 

Think about the following:

  • What is the condition of the roof and windows?
  • Is the water heater in good condition?
  • Will the HVAC need to be updated in the next few years?
  • What do your average utility bills run throughout the year?

NOTE: Divorce can be an extremely emotional time. Don’t let the emotions you’re feeling drive your decisions. Take the time to think through whether you truly want the home or if you’re acting out of frustration. Your legal team and even a therapist can help you process all aspects of your various requests and then advise on the best next steps.

Try Talking to Your Ex First

Lawyers and court costs are expensive. They add up quickly. Try talking through division of property with your spouse first. Don’t try that, however, if they have a history of abuse, intimidation, or manipulation. If you can’t come to an agreement, then bring your attorney in, but the more you can agree on through civil conversations the better. 

Additionally, a judge doesn’t have the same perspective as you. You know what’s best for your family, which means that coming to an agreement together will help to ensure everyone’s best interests aren’t being determined by a stranger.

Here are some important questions for you and your spouse to consider:

  • Who can more comfortably afford the home?
  • Who will have the kids most of the time?
  • How much equity is in the house?
  • Why does each spouse want the house?

If You Go To Court

If you go to court, the judge will look at all aspects of your divorce and determine what happens to the house. Oftentimes, if a couple can’t agree, a judge will order the house to be sold. Selling the house is commonly ordered if keeping the home presents a strong financial burden. This is why it’s so important that you consult with an experienced family law attorney. At other times, a judge might instruct one spouse to pay half of a house’s equity to the other spouse. 

Your ability to navigate the ins and outs of courts and get to the most favorable outcome possible is largely dependent on having a legal team that knows the local court system and state laws.

In fact, it’s crucial that as you go through this process you have a clear understanding of the law so you don’t violate anyone’s rights and you know when you may be being compromised.

Have you found yourself in need of a Concord divorce attorney? Our experienced family law team can help you navigate the ins and outs of what is oftentimes a scary and intimidating time for people. Get in touch with us for a free consultation on your divorce case today.

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This post was written by Cohen and Winters

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