That is always a very emotional topic for clients. Often one spouse feels very strongly that they want to stay in the marital home, oftentimes because the children are already going through a big trauma going through their parents’ divorce and they don’t want to uproot the children and cause them more trauma. That’s one of those questions that parties are advised to really not make a final decision on right away when they’re feeling very emotional, because as divorces typically take a while – eight months your average divorce – and as you’re getting closer to that eight-month mark, you might find out that your children are not as attached to the home as you think. You might find out that the home is very expensive, and the spouse that’s living in the house is going to have a hard time paying that mortgage by themselves even if they are receiving support. It’s still going to be tough because there’s only one person paying all the bills instead of two people.
Having the stress of getting up in the morning and worrying about how you’e going to make the mortgage payment may be actually worse for you than moving to a place that’s affordable and that may actually be better for your family than keeping the home. Clients should think about all of that and also the cost of selling a home. If you keep that asset on your side, you’re keeping it at full value, but let’s say after a couple years you realize you can’t afford it and you sell it, you have to pay real estate fees if you sell it with a realtor – and those can be pretty expensive. You’re not really getting the full value that was determined your full value in the divorce. If you actually sell the house while the divorce process is pending, then both spouses will pay the real estate fees and then you’ll each have part of the equity. Sometimes that’s a better way to go.
An attorney can never tell anybody 100% what they should do, but they just want clients to really look at all their options and not make a really quick emotional decision.
Laura Schantz is a family law attorney and mediator practicing in Beaverton, Oregon. To learn more about Laura Schantz and her firm, Schantz Law P.C., visit www.oregondivorceattorney.com.