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Is it Better to Sell the House in a Divorce?

Posted By Cairns Law Offices || 4-Apr-2016

When couples file for divorce, there is a lot to think about. Usually, the two biggest considerations center on child custody and property division. If a couple owns a home together, their house is likely the largest asset that they own.

Whether you are the husband or the wife, the one that will be paying or receiving spousal support (where applicable), the future of your marital home will be at the top of your list of financial concerns.

Should you sell the house? Should one of you buy the other out of the property? Or, should you rent the house out? The answer depends on a few factors, which we will discuss below.

What to Do With the House

Usually, it makes sense to sell the marital home and split the proceeds. This approach is often the simplest, and fastest way to make a clean break. But, in order to do this, you need equity in the house. If the house is upside-down, it can complicate matters.

Sometimes, one spouse just loves the home. Perhaps he or she has fond memories raising the family in the home, or perhaps they are still raising the couple's young children and don't want to uproot the family.

In this case, the spouse who wishes to remain in the home must be able to afford the mortgage and they must be able to qualify for a mortgage in their name alone. This means that he or she must have the income to qualify for a loan, without their spouse's income being factored into the equation.

Generally, it is not recommended to get a divorce and remain on the mortgage when your spouse decides to stay and live there.

Your spouse can be the most honest and respectable person, but if something happens to him or her, for instance, if they lose their job or become disabled, you can be on the hook for the payments.

Mortgage lenders do not care whose name is on the divorce decree, they only care about who is on the loan. Not only that, but if you stay on the loan, it could make it difficult for you to rent a home or apartment for yourself, or make it impossible for you to qualify for another home loan.

What are my other options?

What if your house is upside-down or you don't want to sell? One of you can buy out the other spouse by trading another asset of value, or you could consider renting out the home until the home values get better. In that case, you would both need to continue being co-owners, so hopefully you can get along until selling the property makes financial sense.

If you need a Pennsylvania no-fault divorce attorney, contact Cairns Law Offices to schedule a free consultation. Ask us about our low-cost divorces!