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When should I try to keep the family home?

On Behalf of | May 14, 2024 | Divorce

In many cases, the family home is a western Virginia couple’s most valuable asset. This means it takes a big role in the property division process if the couple decides to divorce.

Particularly if the couple has lived in the home for quite a while or has raised their children there both parties in a divorce may have sentimental or otherwise non-financial reasons to desire to keep the home.

Whether a person wants to try to hang on to the family home can affect how the approach their divorce even at the beginning of the process. So, it is important to ask several questions early on.

  • Do I have a claim to the home? Usually, a family home will be marital property subject to a fair division between the spouses under Virginia law. However, there may be some cases, such as when one spouse owned the home prior to marriage, where a spouse may not have the legal right to the home.
  • If I do have a claim to the home, am I able to buy out the claim of my spouse? The spouse who does not get to keep the home will be entitled to a fair share of the home’s equity. The person who keeps the home will need to arrange to pay off the other spouse somehow.
  • Will I be able to afford the home’s upkeep? The person who keeps the home typically will have to pay for the taxes and fees, insurance and repairs. If there is a mortgage, the person who keeps the home will usually have to pay it as well. One should keep in mind that they will have to afford the home without their spouse’s income.
  • Will I be able to refinance? It is common that the person who keeps the home will promise to get their spouse’s name off the mortgage by refinancing. They will need the credit and income to convince a lender to refinance.
  • Do I really need the family home? It can be hard to let go of a home with lots of memories, but a person should also remember that they may have more pressing goals to prioritize.

While these are general considerations, a person’s unique situation will best determine how they should approach their family home during a divorce. They should make sure they understand all their options.