Should I keep the house in my divorce?

Tennessee residents who are getting divorced should think twice before they push hard to keep their marital homes as part of their settlements.

It is not uncommon for people in Tennessee to push hard to keep their homes when they get divorced. This is possibly more common among wives as women tend to have greater emotional ties to their homes than do men, especially if children are involved. While it is understandable to want to retain stability for kids and for adults, homeowners are encouraged to think more holistically about their property division options.

A house may be just one of many assets

For many people, a house is just one of many assets that could be part of the marital estate. Evaluating the long-term benefit and cost of each asset is important. This can give people accurate information with which to make decisions in a property division settlement.

For example, the monthly mortgage is only one small part of the costs associated with home ownership. Forbes recommends that people also take into consideration annual property taxes and homeowner's insurance premiums as well as ongoing maintenance and repairs.

A thorough evaluation of the home's current condition at the time of the divorce may be a good way to get a sense of what types of work a home will need in the subsequent few years. For example, if a home is 23 years old with a 25-year roof, a spouse who wants to keep the home may need to pay for a new roof very soon.

There may also be negative tax ramifications if a house is eventually sold. These should be considered in the decision to keep a house during a divorce.

In contrast, retirement accounts do not have the same ongoing maintenance costs associated with them. Some accounts, like Roth IRAs, are funded with pre-tax dollars and therefore distributions will not be taxed as long as the person meets all retirement criteria. For some people, these types of assets may make better financial sense.

Mortgage options

If one spouse is intent on keeping the marital home, the couple then must decide how to deal with the mortgage. Bankrate indicate that doing nothing is highly risky as if one person misses or is late on a mortgage payment, the other person's credit will be affected as well. Similarly, this approach maintains a tie between former spouses that may make it difficult to fully move forward with life.

A spouse wanting the home could investigate refinancing the mortgage into just his or her name. It is important to note here that income will be a huge factor and spousal and child support is not always considered reliable until one full year's worth of payments have successfully been made.

Ask your attorney

Discussing the desire to keep a family home with an attorney during divorce is always recommended. An experienced family law lawyer will be able to help Tennessee spouses determine what is in their best interests.