Divorce impacts every aspect of life. From child custody to child support and spousal support payments, there is so much to take care of during the divorce. One of the major issues you will need to hash out is the division of the marital property according to Virginia’s equitable distribution laws.
It is not uncommon for the ownership of the marital home to be a contentious issue during property division. And while your desire may be to keep the home after the divorce, it is important to understand the implications of that dream.
Here are important questions you need to ask when the subject of keeping the marital home comes up.
Can you afford it?
Homeownership comes with its share of bills – from home insurance, property taxes and maintenance costs among others. In a two-income household, these payments would be more feasible. However, on your own, you might find yourself struggling to meet these expenses. Additionally, your spouse will likely be entitled to a portion of the equity in the home, meaning your costs could be more than they are at this moment in time. If you cannot afford these expenses, including paying off your spouse, then you may be better off choosing an alternate disposition for the home.
Can you refinance the mortgage?
If you and your spouse took out the mortgage together, then you will have to remove their name from it during the divorce. For this to happen, you will have to refinance (or, in some circumstances, assume) the mortgage. Generally, the mortgage company will not remove your spouse’s name from the home simply because you have divorced. For this to happen, you will have to refinance the mortgage, and this requires sufficient income, good credit, funds for closing costs, and other considerations. As noted earlier, should you have to pay your spouse equity in the home as well, you may need to qualify to do a “cash out” refinance, which will increase your future costs.
Where are the children living?
If the children are still residing in the marital home with your spouse, and your spouse has even slightly more custodial time, consider whether it is worth it to you to “have” the home, and require your children to move. The long-term benefits of the children remaining in the home environment they are accustomed to — especially when everything else is changing — are valuable and may demonstrate that you are truly interested in putting your children’s needs first.
The decision to keep the marital home following the divorce basically depends on a number of factors. Understanding your legal rights and options during the divorce can help you determine whether keeping the home is in your best interest.