Over the course of the last few years, the divorce rate in the United States has been declining exponentially. Data fetched from Statista indicates that the divorce rate in the United States stood at about 2.7 per 1,000 of the overall population. Despite this declining number, the US divorce rate is one of the highest worldwide. And if you are going through the same, you may not be in the right emotional state right now.
And let me take some time out and tell you that it’s okay. I know you are strong – we all are. And if you feel frustrated, you can always reach out to us and have a heart-to-heart conversation with one of our experts. That’s because we care.
And if you both own a home or real estate property together yet are getting divorced, chances are that you may be looking forward to co-own it or buy it out. Or maybe you are planning to sell it to the highest bidder.
You may have a world full of questions. And trust me on this one – you’re not alone. Just like you, divorcees find themselves all juggled up and confused – finding it extremely hard to understand what to do with their real estate property. That’s what we’re here to help you with.
In this blog post, I’ve listed down the 6 most common questions couples going through a divorce ask regarding their real estate property.
So – without waiting anymore – let’s dive straight into these.
What are the Marital & Non-Marital Assets?
In a marriage, the assets are classified into:
- Marital Assets: These involve income, debts, assets that both you and your partner accumulated when you were married. Some other examples include investment accounts, pension, retirement funds, car loans, credit card bills, mortgages, and more. These will be divided between both spouses.
- Non-Marital Assets: These involve the assets acquired by either of the spouses both before the marriage and after the separation. These include your pre-marital debts, property as well as other assets – anything you can think of. Also, inherited properties and gifts are also a part of non-marital assets – so you don’t have to worry about your spouse asking you for their share of the house you inherited once.
Should I Keep or Sell My House?
I know – it might seem like a big decision – and it obviously is.
You may have spent years in your house. All those happy moments with your children and now out of nowhere you’re expected to sell it out. As much as you’d want to keep it, chances are that you don’t have the funds to buy out your spouse’s share of the equity. Or maybe you are not financially fit to pay your home mortgage all by yourself.
In a divorce, emotions are high and if it’s a high-conflict one – both spouses may often find themselves in disagreement.
We’d advise you to sell your house if:
- You can’t afford the monthly mortgage payments all by yourself (in case there is an existing mortgage)
- You can’t afford to buy your spouse’s share of the equity.
- You find it too hard to live in the house after the divorce
And in either of the following cases, we’d advise you to keep your house (if it’s a good option):
- You have kid(s).
- You have strong memories and emotional ties associated with your home.
While there’s no concrete answer for it – the decision to sell your home or not depends on your financial situation, relation with your spouse, emotional state, and much more.
If you are planning to keep your house, ask yourself:
- Does it make sense (emotionally and financially) to keep the house?
- How long are you planning to live in the house after you keep it?
- Can you pay the mortgage all by yourself?
- How much are you willing to go through to keep it?
Should I Consider Buying Out My Spouse’s Share of Equity?
Yes – you can always buy out your spouse’s share of the equity. But it doesn’t always make sense. Following are some of the reasons you may want to keep the house:
- You have children
- You have emotional ties as well as memories associated with your home
- You are financially stable.
- The market conditions aren’t ideal right now.
- You badly want to keep your house.
Whether you want to keep the house or not, it doesn’t matter as you need to make sure that if you can financially afford to buy it out. Both the spouses may have a mortgage amount together. And chances are that neither of you may qualify to take over the mortgage all by yourself.
But if you do, you may have to refinance the mortgage in your name. And getting that done isn’t cheap. So, if you are planning to keep your house, you need to make sure that you have the money to buy out your spouse’s share of equity, refinance the mortgage and deal with all the additional costs.
What’ll Happen to My Mortgage After Divorce?
Usually in a divorce, one of the following scenarios plays out:
- Both of you agree to sell the house and pay off the mortgage – and after paying it off, both the parties collect their share of net proceeds.
- One spouse decides to keep the house by simply buying out the other spouse’s share of equity and refinancing the mortgage under their name.
However, as we mentioned above, if you are planning to buy out your spouse’s share of equity, you need to be financially stable to take over and at the same time have a good credit score to qualify for a new loan.
If the divorcing couple is underwater on their house, then the process may get even more complicated.
So, it’s advisable to talk with a real estate expert and a divorce lawyer to sort it out.
Should I Involve My Kids in This Mess?
Divorces can be hard. And they are the worst for the children. While both the spouses should keep their fights or disagreements to themselves, it’s often advisable to keep your kids in the loop.
After all, if you are planning to sell the house, they may have to move to a completely new place. You need to make them feel comfortable. Watching their parents separate is a big step for them. But you need to keep them in the loop and let them know what both of you are planning ahead.
Some questions they may have include:
- Will both (mom and dad) be living in the same neighborhood?
- Where will our dog live?
- Will we be moving to a new city?
- Will we be attending the same school?
- I don’t want to live with my brother/sister – what’s the plan?
I know that divorce is emotionally traumatizing. But it’s even scarier for children. And if you don’t keep them in the loop or inform them about your decisions, they will always find themselves scared. And they may also start feeling some negative emotions like anxiety, stress, depression – which you’d not want them to feel.
Will My Divorce Settle? Or Will We Be Going to Trial?
Over 90% of the overall divorces settle before trial. Usually, this involves one of the spouses agreeing to the other spouse’s settlement offer or via mediation.
However, there are a few cases where both the spouses can’t agree with each other’s decisions. If both of you can’t agree on how to divide your assets – you can go to trial where the court will help you out with the negotiations and split all of your marital assets the right way.
Depending on where you reside, asset distribution may vary.
If you live in a community property state, all the marital assets will be divided 50-50. This doesn’t involve non-marital assets, gifts, or inherited assets.
On the other hand, if you reside in equitable distribution state, then the assets will be divided fairly; however, they are not usually split 50-50 among both the spouses.
Some of the factors taken into consideration by the courts while determining the percentage are:
- Income of both the spouses
- Earning potential of each spouse
- Value of the spouse raising the kids or staying home.
If you are choosing to settle before going to trial, it’s critical to have a well-experienced divorce attorney by your side with experience in real estate and appraisal cases. And even if both of you can’t seem to agree on who gets to keep the house, an experienced attorney will chart a course and guide you thoroughly to help you gain insights into the process and your state’s laws.
Hit Us Up for Further Questions!
And these are just a few of the questions thrown our way on a regular basis. But these are pretty generic ones. Different couples often find themselves under different conditions. And as a result, you may have completely different questions.
Don’t let those questions eat you up. Feel free to reach out to one of our experts and we’d love nothing more than to help you.
Damon Chavez, Realtor
10135 West San Juan Way, #100
Littleton, CO 80127
Phone: (303) 649-6767