The family home is a treasured asset. It is where parents raise their children and develop their entire life. The home certainly carries an emotional value, but it also has significant financial value.

Since spouses often purchase their house together during the marriage, it is considered marital property. This means that in a divorce, the home is subject to property division. But what if one spouse wishes to keep the house after the divorce?

Keeping the house is more affordable nowadays

It is not inexpensive to keep the house in a divorce. Even individuals navigating a high-asset divorce find it difficult to manage the home after they divide their marital property.

However, according to Kiplinger’s Finance, it is easier – and much more affordable – for spouses to keep the house in recent years. Even if it is more affordable, how can individuals ensure they keep the house after their divorce?

What steps should you take to keep the house?

There are quite a few strategies spouses can employ to get the house in property division. However, if an individual wants to be the sole owner of the house, then there are a few steps they must take, no matter their strategy. They must:

  1. Obtain the value of the house. Individuals should get an official appraisal of the house, review their financial documents and research the values of homes on the market and in the surrounding area.
  2. Determine how much of the mortgage there is left to pay. Individuals should be able to find this amount in their financial documents or by contacting their mortgage lender. Then, they should subtract the value of their mortgage balance, as well as any other loans, from the value of their home to calculate the value of the home equity.
  3. Calculate how to divide the home equity. Illinois’s equitable distribution laws require spouses to divide their assets equitably. So, spouses must determine how they would divide the home equity as if they were selling the house.
  4. Buy out the other spouse. The spouse who wishes to keep the house must reimburse their ex-spouse for their portion of the home equity. This ensures that spouses still divide the value of the home equitably. However, the higher-earning spouse might still be responsible for helping to pay insurance or mortgage payments through spousal support.
  5. Refinance the mortgage. This is an essential – but often complex – step. It allows individuals to ensure the mortgage is only in their name. Refinancing the mortgage establishes that the individual now owns the house alone.

This process can often be complex and stressful, especially on top of the entire property division procedure. If one spouse wishes to keep the home, it is often beneficial for them to consult an experienced attorney to protect their property rights and their future after the divorce.