The reason that you hear so many divorcing couples talk about selling the house is that it makes things far easier from a financial perspective. If you still have a mortgage, you can pay it off and eliminate your debt. If you own the house — or if it sells for more than you owe — you can split up the earnings. As you dissolve your marriage and split assets, this gives you a simple way to divide the value in the home.
But if that’s so easy and common, why do some people opt to keep the house? Here are a few potential reasons:
1. You can afford it on your own.
Your ex may want to sell, but don’t forget that they can essentially sell to you by letting you refinance on your own. If you can afford that mortgage yourself, they can walk away without any standing debt. If you do this, though, they may lose some value. For instance, if you would have made $100,000 selling the house, they could perhaps claim $50,000 of that. You need to give them other assets to make up for it.
2. You don’t want to force the kids to move.
Perhaps the biggest reason couples keep the house, especially if they keep it together, is that they have kids. Selling means forcing them to move. They may feel very attached to the house and the neighborhood. It may be in a good school district, and they have friends at school besides. Divorce can upset children, anyway, so forcing them to move just makes it worse. Some couples hold on to the house until the kids graduate, especially if that’s just a few years away.
3. You want to share it.
Most divorced couples do not keep living together. If you wanted to do that, you probably would have stayed married. But there’s another way to share the house, and it’s commonly called nesting.
Think of the home as a bird’s nest or a home base. The kids live in it all the time, meaning they don’t have to move and they can stay near friends, schools, teams, neighbors, etc. You and your ex create a child custody schedule, but you don’t move the kids back and forth like normal. Instead, you move in and out of the house. Only one of you lives there at a time, but you still share the home. You spend the rest of the time in an apartment.
What should you do?
What you should do depends on your situation. Whether you want to keep the home or sell it, the key is to consider all of your legal options from all angles before deciding.