Divorce considerations: should you keep your marital home?

You and your spouse have decided to part ways. Unless you have already outlined how your shared assets will be split – in the form of a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement – then there may be a lot that’s up in the air.

You may have invested a lot of time and resources into creating your perfect home. Is this something you should have to give up? Or will keeping your home cause more trouble than it’s worth? Here are some factors to consider:

Do the numbers make sense?

It’s important to understand how your finances will change following your divorce. If you keep your marital home, you’ll have to refinance as the sole signatory on the loan. Is your credit score strong enough to get this loan on your own?

In addition, consider whether you’ll be able to afford the mortgage – and all of the other expenses that go into home ownership, such as updates and repairs – by yourself. If you’ll also be paying alimony and child custody, is the home still an affordable option for you?

How important is the home to you?

North Carolina is an equitable distribution state – meaning that in a divorce, property is divided between spouses according to what the court deems “fair.” Therefore, if you want to keep the marital home, you should be prepared to lose other marital assets in return. How does your home rank compared to your other property?

Are there children involved?

If you and your spouse of kids together, then keeping the marital home could provide added stability for your children during a turbulent transition. It could also allow them to continue to attend the same school and stay active in the same community of friends and neighbors as before. Therefore, if you will have custody of your children, you may be more motivated to keep the marital home.

Depending on finances and the amicability of the divorce, some co-parents have experimented with a new approach to shared custody called “nesting.” Under this arrangement, each co-parent maintains separate residences – where they live when they don’t have custody of the children. They then trade off moving in and out of the marital home on the days on which they have custody. This helps to limit the disruption in the children’s lives.

Is it up to you?

It is worth noting that if you and your spouse can’t come to an agreement on your own about what to do with the marital home, a North Carolina court could order you to sell it. Therefore, it’s important to weigh your priorities and, whenever possible, work to negotiate the terms of your divorce with your ex.

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