Monday, July 30, 2012

Real Estate and Moving After Divorce: The Logistics of Splitting Up House

Copyright © mintilipgloss - Creative Commons. 
When a couple is divorces, it is a major disruption to the household they shared and their daily lives. In addition to the heavy emotional turmoil, there are many logistical and material concerns that are some of  the most immediate to both parties. While all couples are different, and thus all handle divorce differently, there are a few common considerations that may help both parties more quickly and objectively sort out the particulars.

  • Is it possible for one of the parties in the divorce to move out right away? Not all couples have nearby friends or relatives who are able to host someone indefinitely until he or she finds a new place. Nor do all couples have the funds for someone to stay in a hotel, pay a deposit on a new apartment, or a down payment on a new house. Whether you are the one initiating the divorce or the one taking in the news, this is one of the most immediate logistical hurdles a divorcing couple faces. 
  • Discuss, whether face to face or (if necessary) through your lawyers, what will happen to any joint real estate holdings. Is either party financially able to pay for the current mortgage, taxes, and upkeep by themselves? If the house is to be sold how will any profits be split, and who is in charge of meeting with the realtor, staging the house, living their through showings, and all the other ins and outs of dealing with a house on the market? 
  • If one of the parties is staying in the house, some terms may need to be agreed on either verbally or in writing. How much and in what way will each party contribute to the mortgage each month? Are there rules about what the house may or may not be used for by the remaining party, like sleepovers with new love interests? What if the party who has moved out still needs to use the house for some things, like laundry or storage? Try to set firm rules early on to avoid any misunderstandings or upsets.
  • Although there is a sense of urgency to a post-divorce move, do take the home search as an opportunity to envision the new chapter of your life ahead. If you married young and have never had your own apartment or house, this is a chance to create a home that is entirely to your taste. It may also be a chance to have the roommate experience you never had in your early '20s. Even if you are returning to the single lifestyle after months or years of a shared home with your ex, it is still an opportunity to actualize the person you are today. While looking for a new home, ask yourself some questions about what you want and need. For example:
    • What is your decorating style? Has it changed since you were younger and last had your own place, or is this your chance to discover it without the influence of a spouse?
    • Is this a good time for a big move? You may find that your only tie to your current city is your ex. Now might be a good time to move closer to family and friends, a city that is better for your profession, or to be closer to a graduate program in your field.
    • If you are staying in your current town, is there a neighborhood that would better suit your post-divorce lifestyle? Perhaps you and your ex lived in the suburbs and now you'd like to be closer to work or downtown attractions. Maybe the old neighborhood has too many memories or too many people with an opinion. Or you could simply want a neighborhood with a different architectural style. 
    • Remember, you might not have the time or resources to find an absolutely perfect place immediately after the divorce, but your first post-divorce pad isn't permanent, just a new beginning.
Although divorce is never easy, by taking the time to think through some of these considerations and come up with logical, objective decisions you can make a tough situation simpler.