When couples are considering getting divorced, one question that often causes great stress, is "where are they going to live after the divorce?" Generally, people are emotionally attached to their home, and worried about the impact of moving on both themselves and their children. In addition, for most people their house is both their biggest asset and their biggest expense, so coming up with a plan for selling it or keeping it has to factor into any future financial plan.
At Westfield Mediation, LLC, we always ask our divorce mediation clients to get a market valuation of their home from a realtor to determine how much equity they have in their house. We go over together how much they pay for their mortgage, property taxes, home owners' insurance and other house maintenance. Then, we consider what would make the most sense financially, and for the emotional needs of the family.
Some options include selling the house, refinancing it in one spouse's name or continuing to own the house together for a set period of time. Sometimes, divorcing couples are in a hurry to sell so that they have the cash they need to move forward. Other times, the couple wants to wait before selling so that they can fix up the house for maximum profits or just to adjust more slowly to the change in their circumstances. For some clients, rather than sell the house right away, the divorcing couple decides that one parent will remain in the home with the children until they finish high school or college. Such an approach may minimize the stress on the kids, by allowing them to stay in one familiar place.
In any case, the divorcing couple must decide how they will continue to pay for the house expenses, including the mortgage, taxes, home insurance, and potential repairs, until the house is sold or refinanced in one person's name. The family also will need to allocate enough funds so that the parent who moves out can maintain his/her own separate household. Finally, the couple has to decide how they will divide the proceeds from the house once it is sold. At Westfield Mediation, LLC, we know that each family has its own specific financial and emotional needs, and through divorce mediation, we can help create a plan to fit them.
For more information about dividing assets in divorce mediation or divorce mediation in general, please contact Randi M. Albert, JD, or Michelle Weinberg, M. Ed., Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, at Westfield Mediation, LLC.