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Do You Really Want the House?  Points to Keep in Mind about Dividing Assets during Divorce

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If you jointly owned a home during your marriage, should you try to keep that house as part of the settlement?  The answer depends on you.

As you move through divorce in Maryland, your assets are defined as “marital” or “non-marital” property.  In our state, marital property is divided equitably — not equally.  That means you have the opportunity to work with your partner to decide how to fairly divide the assets that you owned together as well as the debt that you accumulated.

For most couples, a house is the single biggest asset of their marital estate.  For some, a house is both a primary financial and emotional asset.  For others, selling the house and splitting the proceeds is quickly done.  If you are in the process of divorce, it is critical to consider your house as a financial asset before you think about its emotional place in your life.  Let’s explore why.

A house can be a safe haven or a financial burden

For a lot of reasons, women often wish to keep the marital home after a divorce. Just some of those reasons include children, history, familiarity, and the impression that owning the house will guarantee future financial security.  Here are some points to keep in mind about home ownership after divorce:

  • Mortgage payments: Unless you own your house outright, you must be able to afford the mortgage payments.  If you are a woman, chances are you may have less income after divorce than during marriage. If you really want to keep the house, look carefully at your post-divorce income and desired lifestyle, and decide whether you can afford the payments — and whether you really want that obligation.
  • Maintenance is expensive: Along with property taxes, maintenance and repairs make for frequent homeowner headaches.  Decide whether you will have the financial and time resources to maintain the house and property.
  • Tax benefits: Depending on current tax laws, owning your home could give you advantages. Plus, you build equity in the house the longer you live in it.
  • Residential choices: Think about whether you want to live where you are right now. Is it important to you?  Do you really still want to be a homeowner, or would you rather have the liberty to rent and move when you would like?  Do you have children?  The stability provided by a home can be important to children, especially as parenting time plans come into effect.

The choice of whether to bargain for the marital house depends on a lot of factors, including your financial wellbeing and your own choice in the matter.  Depending on the economy and your mortgage, a home can be a good, long-term asset – if you can afford it.  But, if you have little equity in the home and owe a lot on the mortgage, the equation could be different.

Contact an experienced Baltimore divorce attorney

With a practice focused on family and domestic law, the Law Offices of Allyson B. Goldscher, LLC serve individuals and families throughout Baltimore and Baltimore County from our offices in Stevenson. Contact us when you have questions about divorce and the division of assets, or call 410-602-9522 to schedule an appointment to discuss your situation.