What Should You Do With Your Oakland County Home Now That You’re Getting Divorced? (Pt 1)

A nice house in a suburb, taken shortly after sunrise

One of the many challenges people face when they decide to end their marriages is what to do with their home. For most couples here in Oakland County, Michigan, their house is their largest asset, which means the decision they make regarding how to handle it during a divorce can have a huge impact on their future as individuals. Also, keep in mind that the house itself is often the single hardest item for divorcing spouses to negotiate. Who gets Aunt Lucy’s valuable fine china versus who gets stuck paying off the new car are usually far less contentious issues than what to do with the house.

What options do most couples choose in Oakland County?

So what is the right thing to do? Should they sell the home and split the profits? Should one spouse buy the other one out and keep the home? Should one walk away and let the other spouse keep it, taking other assets (like a retirement fund) in lieu of their portion? It’s a tough choice. And in addition to being the most valuable asset most couples own, it also has the misfortune of being an item that can’t be divided into two equal parts (at least, not in its current state!). So what can you do about it? Let’s look at your options.

Option One: One spouse buys the other spouse out

Some couples choose to have one person keep living in the home and pay off half of it’s value to the departing spouse. In essence, it’s the domestic equivalent of a buyout. However, not everyone is in the financial position to fork over half of their home’s value to their ex. And of course, this doesn’t work for couples who can’t even agree on who gets to keep the home and who has to leave. If you’d like to be the one to stay in your home, or you are happy for your spouse to keep it but you want your money’s worth from them, discuss this option with your divorce attorney. If your attorney is experienced with these issues, your discussion will also include the tax implications of keeping a house that has likely appreciated. 

Option Two: The spouse who gets primary custody also gets the house

A relatively common solution is that the parent who gets either sole or primary custody of the kids, tends to also get the house. This may seem unfair to the parent who gets neither, but it’s often done this way to ensure that the divorce causes as little disruption to the children as possible. Though this also raises the issue of financial means. What if the parent with primary custody can’t afford to live alone in the family home? Even with child support, and possible alimony, a mortgage can be very expensive. You should definitely figure out your budget to see if this is a viable option for you before fighting to keep a house you can’t afford.

Dividing your assets is a major process

The truth is, there is no “one size fits all” solution for this part of a divorce. Too many factors influence the final decision for it to be made without assessing each and every aspect of the situation. There are financial considerations, tax considerations, emotional issues, and the ever-present ‘best interests of the child’ that affect the outcome for each couple. Join us next time for a few more options, and a few other points you need to keep in mind!

Make sure you get the right help during your Oakland County divorce

Divorce may be a major undertaking, and asset division might be a contentious process, but a skilled family law attorney can help you address every aspect of your divorce. Here at The Kronzek Firm, our experienced and understanding divorce lawyers can help you work towards a solution that will meet the needs of all parties involved, whether you live in Troy, Bloomfield Hills, Farmington Hills or Royal Oak. We can’t promise that it will be easy, but we can promise to stand by you every step of the way, and make certain that your future is protected in the best way possible. We’ve helped thousands of clients over the last 25 years. Call (248) 479-6200 today to set up your free consultation.