The Real Estate Divorce Dilemma: What to Do With a House When You Split

Financial problems are always difficult to handle in a marriage — and they don't get any easier during a divorce. Since the economic downturn and real estate bust, the financial ramifications of divorce have become even more challenging — and in some cases, the decision to split can be directly influenced by a couple's finances. In fact, a recent survey conducted by the National Marriage Project at the University of Virginia found that 38 percent of couples who want to divorce are staying in their marriages because of the economy. And when a couple does decide to go through with the divorce, deciding what to do with the marital home can become a major point of contention.

What to Do With Your Home When You Divorce

  • Keeping the home: Sometimes it makes more sense to wait to sell the home than to try to get a good price in a bad housing market. In these cases, the couple must decide whether they will continue to live in the house together, or whether one of the spouses will live in the home alone. If the couple decides to continue sharing the home as they divorce, they must be able to communicate well and make decisions about the house's upkeep, care of the children and how they will handle it when the time comes for them to begin dating. If one spouse stays in the home, the couple must decide who will pay for the bills associated with the home and who will deal with its upkeep.
  • Selling the home: If the couple sells their home as they divorce, they must decide if they are willing to accept less money than the house is actually worth in order to make a clean break. If a couple is trying to avoid foreclosure, they may choose a short sale — where the home is sold for less than the outstanding balance of the mortgage. In other cases, couples may need to decide how to divide the funds that result from equity and capital improvements on the home.

If you are currently considering a divorce, and are concerned about the effects of the economy on your marital home value, contact an experienced divorce attorney in your area to be advised of your rights and options.