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May 30, 2011

Does Stuck with the House meant Stuck with the Spouse?

Divorce and General Articles, Future Post-Divorce

In a normal economy, couples typically build equity in their homes, and then divide that equity in a divorce, either after selling the house or with one partner buying out the other’s share.  But after the recent boom-and-bust cycle, more couples own houses that neither spouse can afford to maintain, and that they cannot sell for what they owe.  For couples already under stress, the family home has become a toxic asset.

 So does this mean that if you’re stuck with the house, you’re stuck with your spouse?  Not necessarily….there are some things you can do, now that you and your spouse have made the decision to divorce.  First and foremost, stop battling with your spouse and work together to work it out.  If you haven’t tried mediation, this is a good time to consider it.  In mediation, a couple will determine the end goal (separating the household) and work together along with professional attorney mediators, counselors and financial planners to make that happen. 

 Secondly, seek additional support and knowledge from real estate brokers and mortgage consultants.  In this economy, the experts are often the ones with creative ways to work on finding a good solution for each of you.  Thirdly, get your financial house in order.  With declining assets to split between the two of you, now is the time to focus on creating that budget and pay down credit card balances. 

 With a little focus on what you want after your divorce, you and your soon-to-be ex will be able to get unstuck and move on.  It’s all about priorities and making the choices between needs and wants!