Who Gets the House In Divorce

Deciding who gets the house in divorce is a bit more complicated than just agreeing on who wants it. You also need to consider mortgage responsibilities and whether you actually have the means to keep the house. Our financial advisor has given his input and points out some things to keep in mind when making the decision on whether to keep the marital home or not.

Kelly's Question: I've been a stay at home mom for 7 years with no income what so ever. We bought a house shortly after we married, and everything is in his name since I had no income to contribute. If I stay in the home, do I get everything put in my name with his alimony as my income? I don't want to be dependent on him to be able to stay here, but any job that I would qualify for wouldn't pay enough to cover the mortgage for this home. I have 5 children ages 4-14 and I've been told I'd probably be awarded as the primary custodial parent so I'd need a house this size.

Timothy's Answer: You are being faced with perhaps one of the most difficult questions one faces when going through a divorce, the decision as to whether or not to keep the marital home. In my personal experience, maintaining the marital home vs. selling it is one of the “top ten” mistakes most couples often make when divorcing.

The key thing to keep in mind here is the house does not pay your bills. While currently you have not been given the option to stay or not, you should be intimately aware of the financial consequences of keeping the home should this be an option to you. While you may end up receiving support in the form of child support and alimony, this amount may be far less than what you would need to maintain the home, as well as pay for the rest of your living expenses and raise your five children.

I would strongly recommend you get some good financial advice from someone other than your attorney. I always recommend you seek the advice of a trained expert in divorce finance like a Certified Divorce Financial Analyst. These individuals are experts in divorce finance and can help you run various scenarios to understand what your best options are. Sometimes, the court may order the wife to maintain the marital home without fully understanding the financial consequences of doing so. This can be financially devastating to a family and therefore you owe it to yourself to seek help in this area.

I can understand how you might feel financially dependent on your husband if he is ordered to pay support to you. However, in you role as a full time mom who is responsible for raising five children, you will obviously require support to meet your expenses. While you may feel dependent on your husband, you must realize that it is also his responsibility to care for your children.

Finally, if it turns out you are awarded the marital home and it is in your best financial interest to maintain it, you can have the deed changed to put the home into your own name. This process is very easy, inexpensive task and can be done with the assistance of almost any attorney.

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