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Should you fight to keep your home in the divorce?

Along with matters of child custody and visitation, one of the biggest issues that must be settled in many divorce cases is who, if anyone, gets to keep the house. Although keeping the home is often a top priority during divorce, it may not always make sense. Therefore, before going head-to-head with your ex over who gets the house, it is a good idea to take a step back and make sure you are doing it for the right reasons.

Some divorcing couples choose to sell their marital home and establish new, separate households. This can be appealing for a variety of reasons, including a desire to make a “fresh start” after divorce. 

In addition, selling the house can sometimes be simpler from a financial point of view, at least in theory, since the proceeds from the sale can be split between the spouses during the property division process. Especially when a shared home is a couple’s primary asset, this approach can sometimes make sense.

In practice, of course, the sale of a home is often a lengthy and complicated undertaking that can take months or even years to complete, particularly in today’s economy. For some couples who wish to have the divorce over with as quickly as possible, this can be a compelling argument in favor of having one spouse keep the house.

For parents, another reason that it may make sense to have one spouse stay in the home is to minimize disruption in the children’s lives. Because divorce can be a stressful time for kids as well as parents, keeping the family home can be an important way to help maintain stability.

Source: The Wall Street Journal, "Divorce isn't just about the money grab," Larry Stein, July 28, 2014

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