So, you’re getting a divorce? While there is surely a lot on your mind at the moment, one of the first things you should think about is how you will split the value of your home. No matter how you go about it, a primary focus should be on both parties leaving the situation feeling like they got their fair share.
All should be done in an amicable state to preserve peace, especially if you share children. Throughout the entire duration of the divorce process, it is crucial to take them into consideration to create a smooth transition. They should be kept in mind during every decision along your path to legal separation—including how you divide your home assets.
There are a variety of ways to accomplish a peaceful and equitable split, as well as many things to consider before you arrive at an action plan. If you and your soon-to-be ex could use somewhere to start, mull over these three simple methods to help determine the smartest direction for the whole family:
- Retain Joint Ownership & Make an Agreement
One option is to continue sharing ownership of the home. Reasons for doing this may include:
- You believe it will help to sustain a healthy home environment for your children.
- One or both of you cannot afford to pay for separate homes.
- You owe more on your house than it is currently worth or you want to wait until the real estate market goes up.
If you agree to take this avenue, it is time to make a solid plan, taking all actions necessary to produce a peaceful and productive outcome for all parties involved:
- First, decide whether it is a good idea to continue cohabiting or if it is better for one party to move out.
- Then, you should cancel any unnecessary joint accounts and set up a sound system to make separate payments.
- Finally, get your agreement in writing and reevaluate the situation as time goes on.
- Sell the Property & Split the Proceeds
Another way of going about this is to sell the home and split the proceeds evenly between each spouse. Reasons for doing this may include:
- You prefer to separate your lives completely and sever all contact.
- You will both be able to afford separate accommodations after your house sells.
- A clean split seems to be your best bet to avoid fighting about home assets in the future.
If it is a lucrative time to sell your home and you are both on board with splitting the profit, get your house out on the market so you can walk away from the relationship with money in your pocket:
- First, sell your house, putting all mortgage debt to rest.
- Then, pay all sales expenses and associated taxes with the proceeds.
- Finally, split the money that remains and go your separate ways.
- Refinance the Loan & Remove One Person’s Ownership
Many divorcees decide to refinance their loan and remove one person from the mortgage. Reasons for doing this include:
- You want to rid your relationship of jointly held assets.
- You feel it’s best to start fresh by paying off outstanding debt and starting on a new loan.
- It is necessary to free up money in order for one of you to buy out the other’s share.
If this is the route you take, you should sit down, do the math with all home assets taken into consideration, and then find a suitable way to transition over to sole ownership:
- First, get an appraisal and confirm that the spouse who wants sole ownership qualifies for it.
- Then, distribute the equity in a fair manner, refinance your loan, and find the best way for one party to buy out the other using either cash or assets.
- Finally, after the other spouse has been bought out and is no longer on the loan, they will walk away with their fair share of the home’s value.
Before you make a decision on how to divide the value of your home, weigh all of your options carefully. Then, find creative ways to smooth out the process for a peaceful and mutually profitable split.
These three methods are only foundations to build upon— Each situation and relationship requires a different approach. Determine your intentions and keep them in your thoughts as you navigate your negotiations. A good goal to keep in mind is for both parties to be able to afford to live in a home that is conducive to healing after all is said and done.
Last, but certainly not least—even the most peaceful of separations can benefit from the help of a passionate and experienced attorney. Divorce is already difficult enough. Don’t let it disrupt your life or the lives of your children more than it has to!