When deciding what to do with a marital home during a divorce, the financial realities should take priority over emotional ties. When a divorce becomes imminent, it is understandable for Arizona spouses to feel a strong pull to want to retain their family homes. This may be especially the case for parents who still have minor children at home. While the desire to maintain stability for the kids is legitimate, spouses should still make decisions about their assets from a financial perspective. In some cases, it simply does not make good financial sense to keep a marital home after a divorce.
Costs beyond the mortgage
As Forbes explains, simply being able to afford a monthly mortgage payment does not mean that someone can afford to own a particular home. Spouses should also consider their ability to pay property taxes, homeowner’s insurance, maintenance and repair costs that are inevitable parts of the homeowner’s experience.
Dealing with the mortgage
If it is determined that one spouse can afford all of the various costs associated with keeping a home, the next step is to decide what to do with the mortgage. For most spouses, a home’s mortgage is jointly held in both people’s names. If only one person is going to live in and assume financial responsibility for the home but the mortgage remains in both spouse’s names, that could leave one spouse very vulnerable. As noted by Time, if the spouse who stays in the home stops paying the mortgage at some point, the other spouse could be on the hook for the debt. That person’s credit score could also take a serious hit if a short sale or foreclosure ever ensued due to the other spouse’s lack of payment. This type of situation could arise even if the couple used a quitclaim deed to transfer ownership responsibility to one spouse only or if a divorce settlement agreement stipulated that one spouse was responsible for the mortgage.
Making the choice to sell
The real and full costs of owning and maintaining a home along with the potential pitfalls of keeping a joint mortgage going after getting divorced are two reasons why many couples choose to sell their homes during their divorces. According to Bankrate, many people also find that selling a home they shared with a former spouse can be the cleanest and least complex option. It also allows people to make a more defined break from their past and move forward emotionally as well as financially. It is not uncommon for a couple to owe more on a home than the home is worth. In these situations, a short sale may be necessary. This may force credit scores to drop for a bit but they can be improved with concrete steps over time.
Getting help to make the right decision
The choices regarding a family home in a divorce are not simple and no two divorces are the same. Arizona residents facing these situations should always work with an attorney to fully understand their options and its implications in order to make the best decisions for their needs.