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The Declining Housing Market and Its Effect on Divorce

Financial stress is one of the leading causes of divorce today. More often than not, a married couple’s most valuable asset is their home. The home is where the couple hopes to raise a family. A home is also an investment, one that can allow the couple to build equity which could be used to buy a larger home should the family grow, or to be a part of their retirement nest egg. Unfortunately, things don’t always go according to plan. When a couple does decide to end their marriage, the struggling housing market can play a significant role in the divorce process.

Holding Onto the House

During property division, negotiating what to do with the marital home is often the couple’s biggest issue. While in the past the house was something often worth fighting for, in this market many people are living in homes worth far less than they paid for them, thus making the home the couple’s biggest debt. Some divorcing couples just want out from under a crippling mortgage.

The decision to sell a home that is underwater (worth less than existing mortgage) could make life economically difficult after a divorce. Even if the house could net a profit, some couples feel that selling in a down market would be a bad financial decision.

Both of these scenarios have caused couples to take a step back and re-examine whether to sell the home. In some circumstances, having one spouse stay in the home can ultimately be the wiser decision, especially if it allows children to stay in the home they lived in during the marriage.

It’s Worth the Loss

Regardless of the financial ramifications, for some divorcing couples the decision to sell the house can provide emotional relief and closure to the marriage. The emotional price of keeping the home can be far greater than any potential financial loss. Getting out from under the burden of a high monthly mortgage can also make post-divorce finances much easier.

What Should Be Done?

Every situation is unique, so if you are facing divorce contact an experienced lawyer who can explain all the financial ramifications of keeping or selling the marital home.

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