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Should one purchase a new home before their divorce is finalized?

When a couple in Virginia decides to divorce, one or both of them may be anxious to move out of the marital home and into their own home away from their ex. In the event that a couple decides to sell the marital home and split the proceeds or in the event that one spouse is leaving the marital home, one or both spouses may be interested in purchasing a new home in their name only. However, should they go through with the home buying process before their divorce is finalized?

It is important to the spouse that is moving out of the marital home that their ex doesn't have a claim to the new home that spouse is purchasing. Couples who are on good terms with one another may be able to reach a property division settlement in which they agree that the new home belongs solely to the spouse that moved out of the marital home. However, not all couples are able to work together to settle their property division issues on their own.

In the event that a settlement cannot be reached, it may be advisable to purchase a new home using separate assets, such as investment accounts established prior to marriage or an inheritance. Make sure to document on paper where the funds for the home are coming from. Also, when the house is titled, it should be titled as that spouse's "sole and separate" property. Finally, during the property division process, do not try to hide this new asset. Full disclosure of all assets, separate and marital, is necessary in a divorce.

Of course, this information is general in nature and cannot serve as legal advice. Since buying a home after you have separated from your ex but before the divorce is final can be complicated, it is important that you have a thorough understanding of how Virginia law would treat such a purchase. With the right knowledge, a person can decide whether they should wait until after their divorce is finalized to purchase a new home.

Source: SunSentinel, "Ask a real estate pro: I want to buy a house, but I'm getting a divorce. Help?," Gary M. Singer, May 4, 2018

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