Should You Request the Family Home in Divorce?
For most couples, their home is their largest piece of property. If a couple bought a home after getting married, odds are high that the property will qualify as “marital” and therefore is subject to equitable distribution.
At our firm, we meet with many clients who automatically assume that they want the family home. However, in some situations, this is the wrong choice. Instead, many of our clients would benefit more by taking different marital assets, such as retirement accounts. To decide what you should ask for, please meet with a Jupiter divorce attorney for a free consultation.
When it Makes Sense to Request the Home
In our experience, clients are best positioned to request the home in the following situations:
- They have young children and do not want to uproot the family. A divorce is often hard enough on children, and sending them to a new school district often only adds to the stress.
- They intend to sell the home and the housing market is strong. In this situation, our clients should have no trouble unloading the property for a fair price.
- They intend to live in the home and are able to maintain the property. A home takes a lot of work and can be very expensive. However, if our clients have their eyes wide open, then it can be a sensible choice to request the home.
Before we can advise our clients, we need to take a full look at all marital property that is available. In some cases, the home might make up the bulk of the marital estate, in which case our clients need to request at least partial ownership.
Situations Where Requesting the Home is a Mistake
After reviewing all circumstances, many clients come to realize that requesting the home would be an error. For example:
- The real estate market is tanking, in which case the value of the home is declining. A client might need to wait years before they can sell the home for a fair price.
- The client does not have the funds to maintain the home. By comparison, something like a retirement account might be cheaper to maintain and retain more of its value.
- The client cannot physically maintain the property. If you are aging, it might make sense to move to a retirement community or assisted living. Owning a home might be too much work.
The Challenge of Renting
Some clients assume that even if they can’t sell the home, they will just rent it and make money that way. But renting a property is much harder than many clients realize. For one thing, the property requires upkeep, just as it would if you were living there. For another, dealing with tenants is often more work than people imagine. Tenants might trash the place or not pay rent, in which case you will need to initiate lengthy eviction proceedings.
For help thinking through your options, contact Jupiter equitable distribution lawyer Caroline Olson, P.A. today. Our law office is happy to meet with men and women considering divorce for a free consultation.