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Divorce and the family home

If you are a Buffalo resident who is contemplating a divorce, one of the biggest issues after custody arrangements of any minor children are resolved is what will happen to the marital home.

Determining which spouse will get the home or whether it needs to be sold outright is usually a decision that is fraught with emotion. No matter how acrimonious the divorce may be, it can be very hard for divorcing spouses to walk away from the home where a lifetime of memories was made.

Minor children and the family home

Some family court judges award the use of the marital home to the parent who has primary custody of the minor children. This is done to preserve continuity in the kids' lives and reduce the number of disruptions they will endure resulting from the divorce.

Later, once the children have grown up, the courts can rule that the property will then be sold and the proceeds from the sale split between the former spouses.

Gray divorces and the house dilemma

When no minor children are involved and the divorcing spouses are middle-aged or older, different factors come into play regarding the family home. It's important not to let emotions overrule sound thinking, as holding onto the home can be impractical and a financial liability.

Below are some important factors which must be considered.

  • Can either of the spouses afford the mortgage, property taxes and maintenance costs of the upkeep of the home on a single salary?
  • Are either or both physically able to handle the tasks of a homeowner by themselves. Buffalo winters are brutal, with plenty of snow that needs to be shoveled and storm windows to install and remove twice a year.
  • Is the house a money pit? Will all your discretionary funds be devoted to patching the roof and fixing plumbing leaks?

Facing the future post-divorce

Both parties have to be realistic about what they can physically and financially manage after the divorce. Be frank with your family law attorney about your concerns moving forward after the divorce is finalized. Have him or her explore all of the options you have available to you, such as giving up your share of the family home in exchange for a larger share of the retirement accounts.

Keep an eye on the housing markets

In recent years there has been a great deal of fluctuation in the housing market across the nation. If the two of you decide to sell the house and split the proceeds, make sure the timing is right. Don't list the property when it's clearly a buyer's market. That might mean sprucing it up to rent for awhile until the time is right to sell.

Whatever your final decision is, make sure that your attorney has fully explained the pros and cons of all your options so that you are able to make the best decision for your particular situation.

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