When parents divorce and one gets primary custody of the children, that parent often believes the divorce will be less difficult for the kids if they remain in the family home. Besides being in familiar surroundings, they can continue in their school and be close to their neighborhood friends.
It can be a big challenge, however, for one parent to afford the mortgage payments, taxes, insurance and other expenses associated with owning a home. If you feel strongly about staying in your home, at least until your children are older, it’s crucial to determine if there are options as you negotiate your property division and support agreements that will allow you to do that without sacrificing your overall financial well-being.
What options do you have if you can’t afford it on your own?
One option is to buy out your spouse’s share of the home. If there’s a mortgage on the home, you’ll likely need to refinance that on your own. You’ll need to determine whether this is financially feasible if this is the option you want to pursue.
If you can’t afford to do this on your own (and don’t have parents or other family members who can help you financially), you may want to find out if your co-parent will help you. If they agree that keeping the home is best for the kids, at least until they move on to high school or college, they may be open to getting something else of similar value in exchange for helping you keep the home. If that means keeping their name on the title and the mortgage, however, it’s important to consider whether you want to keep such a strong financial between you.
If trying to keep the home is going to add conflict, time and money to your divorce or put you in a difficult financial position, that could negatively affect your kids more than moving into a smaller place. What’s most important is that they feel secure and loved. They may not even feel as attached to the home as you think they are.
The family home is usually the largest single asset – and sometimes also the most sentimental one – that divorcing couples deal with. That’s why, as with all aspects of divorce, it’s wise to have experienced legal guidance as you determine how to handle it.