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What to do if you want to keep your home in a divorce

You know that your main goal for your divorce, other than making sure you get to see your kids, is to keep the family home. You and your spouse bought it jointly, but you picked it out, you were the one who loved the neighborhood and you don’t want to give all of that up just because you’re getting divorced.

So, what do you need to do to make this a reality? Here are a few key points to consider.

You may need to “trade” other assets

First off, you likely have some equity in your home. You owe less than it’s worth. That’s great, but your ex probably wants to sell the house to get their portion of that value out of it.

If you want to keep it, you may have to give up something else. For instance, say you would make $100,000 by selling on the open market, and your ex expects to take $50,000. They may be fine with you keeping the house, but they’ll want $50,000 in cash or equivalent assets — like a retirement account — to balance things out.

You need to get a new mortgage

Next, you can’t just keep the house on the same terms, unless your ex is very willing to take on risk on your behalf. They would be liable for the mortgage payments, even after the divorce. They’re going to want you to apply for a new mortgage on your own so that you can finance the house by yourself. Remember that the mortgage company doesn’t care about divorce, but just about who is on the paperwork.

You need to consider a new budget

Finally, you should spend some time thinking about the cost of owning the home yourself. This starts with your new mortgage and closing costs, but may also include utilities, taxes, insurance, maintenance and upkeep, and many other costs. Your finances will change after divorce, so make sure that you are able to cover these costs yourself.

As you work your way through this process, it’s also important to look into all of the proper legal steps to take.