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What are the benefits and drawbacks of keeping the house?


The family home is likely to be the biggest asset most couples who are going through a divorce will have. Although any form of property division during a divorce has the potential to be contentious, disputes over which spouse gets the home tend to cause an especially high degree of animosity. People are attached to their homes, after all, not just for financial reasons, but for emotional ones as well. Holding on to the house at all costs, however, is not always the best decision and it is important to weigh the benefits and drawbacks of retaining ownership before agreeing to a final settlement.

Benefits of keeping the house

For some people, holding onto the house makes practical sense. If a couple has children, then keeping them in the same house can help reduce the disruption a divorce may otherwise cause in their lives. For example, those children will be able to keep going to the same school and maintain the same social circle as they had before their parents' divorce.

Getting ownership of the house in a divorce settlement may also make financial sense. In some areas, for example, property values may be likely to appreciate relatively quickly, although it should always be kept in mind that a fair deal of instability always exist in the real estate market. For those who have an income that is sufficient to cover their property's taxes and maintenance costs, then holding onto the home may be the best decision financially as well as for their families.

What are the drawbacks?

Unfortunately, many people fight for ownership of the home for emotional reasons rather than practical ones. As Forbes points out, holding onto the home no matter what the cost can leave people house poor. A house that was built for two people can be overly expensive for one person to maintain.

Furthermore, there may be assets that could provide more long-term benefits than retaining ownership of the home. As the Wall Street Journal reports, retirement funds, including pensions, Social Security Benefits, and 401(k) accounts, may not only provide more financial security in the long run, but they could also provide more tax benefits in the immediate future when compared to holding on to the marital home.

Consult an attorney

As the above shows, it is not always easy to determine which decisions during a divorce are actually in one's best long-term interests. An experienced family law attorney can help anybody going through a divorce make sense of what is often a confusing situation. By offering qualified legal advice, an attorney will be able to assist anybody in the midst of a divorce understand how the choices they make today will affect them in the future.

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