Family homes and divorce

The decision about what to do with a family home during a divorce should be made based on finances, not emotions.

When a divorce ends up being the decision that a couple in Connecticut feels is best for them, some loss is generally inevitable. Given this, it is understandable that many spouses work hard to hold on to certain things in part as a way to keep losses to a minimum. However, before rushing in to keeping a family home, the truth about financial matters must be faced.

What if I can afford the mortgage?

People may sometimes feel that they can easily keep a home because the monthly mortgage fits into their budget. However, Forbes reminds people that a mortgage payment is only part of the cost of owning a home. Spouses should add in the costs for repair, maintenance, taxes and insurance to determine if they can truly afford to keep a house.

What happens to the mortgage?

For most couples, a family home has an attached mortgage that is in both spouses' names. If the person who wants to keep the home cannot refinance with a new mortgage in their name only, this leaves the other person seriously at risk.

Time warns spouses of agreeing to this type of situation as they may end up being liable for missed mortgage payments even if their name is no longer on the home's deed. Another concern is the hit that a person's credit might take if the spouse who stays in the home lets the house eventually go into foreclosure.

Quitclaim deeds and divorce settlements do not change the fact that a loan in two people's names is the responsibility of both parties.

Should we sell our home?

After considering the long-term risks of sharing a mortgage with a former spouse and the true costs of keeping a family home that might be larger than what is needed going forward, many people do decide to sell their homes. Bankrate notes that many spouses find this a good way to get a true clean break, letting them start fresh after their divorce.

Even if a short sale is required to do this, a person's credit may rebound from this quicker than from a foreclosure.

How can I make the right choice?

Connecticut spouses who are getting divorced should work with an attorney from the beginning. This gives them access to insights from a person who is not emotionally tied to their situation and may be able to guide them appropriately.