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Planning for the family home in divorce: start early

Keeping the family home is no small matter for many couples who are going through divorce. For many, the home is the largest asset to go through the division process. Couples, for obvious reasons, can get attached to the family home and may be unable to agree on who should keep the home.

Further, it isn’t always possible from a financial perspective for a party who wants to keep the family home to do so. And, in cases where couples are able come up with an arrangement for the family home, plans don’t always work out, whether because of a refinance failure or changed financial circumstances which don’t allow the party who kept the home to continue doing so. 

In situations where one party intends to keep the home, the best case scenario is that he or she is able to refinance the home in his or her name only so that the other party is not held responsible for late payments and failure to pay. Along with refinancing, of course, it is also necessary to make sure the spouse giving up possession of the home is taken off the title by a quitclaim deed. This step needs to be done properly, though, to ensure that there are no delays in refinancing.

Even where a party to divorce wants to do so, refinancing is not always possible, particularly for couples who took out a large mortgage. This can leads some couples to try to work out an arrangement in which one party agrees to make all mortgage payments. This sort of thing is risky for the party who gives up possession of the home, though, because he or she can still be held responsible for the balance of the loan and his or her credit score can be impacted.

When a couple is unable to refinance or unwilling to maintain the home, it has to be sold, and this can present its own challenges.

There are steps that couples can take to make sure they plan properly for dealing with the family home in divorce. The most important thing is to begin working with an experience family law attorney early on in the process so that delays and complications in negotiations and preparations are minimized.

Source: Wall Street Journal, “In a Divorce, How One Spouse Can Keep the House,” Nov. 5, 2014. 

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Planning for the family home in divorce: start early | Peter A D'Angelo, Attorney at Law, PLC