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What to do with the marital home during a divorce

Photo of Karen Lavin


For many Illinoisans, getting divorced can feel a bit like drinking water from a fire hose. That is because divorce requires a multitude of important family law decisions. Who gets the children? What kind of rights should the non-custodial parent have? Should one spouse pay the other alimony? If so, how much? Making these choices properly requires thorough research and careful consideration.

Take, for example, one of the biggest property-division questions that many Illinois couples need to work through: the marital home. Often, one spouse will stay in the family home. They do this for often emotional reasons, to minimize the divorce's impact on children or to hold onto something familiar in a turbulent time.

But emotions are hardly the only factor to consider; couples should also think about whether one spouse keeping the house makes financial sense. To figure that out, Illinoisans should do three things.

First, they should assess market conditions and the current value of the home. Getting an appraisal is a good start. That number can be used when divvying up marital property. It can also tell the couple whether the house might sell quickly, which could provide the couple an easy source of assets that would allow each spouse to move forward with his or her individual life.

Second, research the cost of other housing options. Sometimes other housing options will much cheaper, but other times much more. Remember to factor in storage and moving costs.

And, third, consider a buyout, in which one spouse buys the house outright. This can be accomplished through refinancing and paying out cash equity, or through decreasing the assets the spouse getting the home otherwise would receive in other marital assets.

As this post underscores, divorce can be complicated. Illinoisans who are going through a divorce may benefit from discussing their case with an experienced family law attorney.

Source: Yahoo! Finance, "Divorce and the Marital Home," Cathy Dewitt Dunn, Jan. 14, 2014

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