When senior couples divorce, one of the first dilemmas they face is whether or not to sell the family home. One or both partners may wish to keep the house. Grown children may be hoping to inherit it. How can you determine the best course of action? Start by asking yourself these 3 questions.
1) Where will we each live if we sell or don't sell?
No matter how you may be feeling about the partner you're divorcing, they have to live somewhere and so do you. If one of you really wants to hold on to the home, where will the other partner live?
Will there be enough income for each party to maintain a separate residence after the divorce? Can the person keeping the home afford to make payments - either lump sum or on a schedule - to the party who is moving out so that the displaced person can afford to pay rent or another mortgage payment?
Is there any way you can both share the marital home after the divorce?
A family law judge, or a place like Tracy McMurtrie Luck & Associates, will want to know the answers to these questions to be sure that both people in a divorce proceeding have their basic needs met.
2) How much upkeep is required to maintain the home?
Even though you may have a sentimental attachment to the house in which you've raised your family, you need to ask yourself if you have the physical and financial capacity to maintain a home by yourself.
Older homes often need roofing, plumbing, and structural repairs. There is landscaping that must be kept trimmed, exterior paint or stain that needs to be refreshed from time to time and heating and cooling systems that have to be serviced. When you own the home, you also own the maintenance problems.
Ask yourself if you can afford this upkeep. Also ask yourself if you want to spend your golden years taking care of a home. Is it worth it to you to have the burden of property caretaking, or is it time to let another family enjoy the home?
3) What do the kids think?
You have to make the best decision for your own financial security and well being, but it never hurts to get opinions from your kids. You may believe, for example, that your children would be upset to see their family home sold to strangers. But your kids may not feel that way at all. They may want you to sell so you can relocate closer to them.
If they tell you they want you to try to hold on to the house, ask them why. If they have great memories of the home, but never visit anymore, their memories are apparently enough.
If they hope to inherit the home one day, but keeping it will be a hardship for you or the spouse you're divorcing, ask your children if they can help with the maintenance and care of the home until it is their own. Their financial and other assistance may allow you to hang on to your home when your own finances are tight.
Whether to sell or to keep your home after a divorce is a huge decision. If you or your spouse can't make a choice about what to do about the family home, a judge may be the one to make that decision for you. You need good counsel in that case. Weigh all of your options and consult a family law attorney to get the scoop on divorce laws in your state. He or she can help you take an honest look at your concerns so you can make a decision that makes sense for your particular situation.