The upheaval and emotional turmoil of divorce means that decisions are often made in an emotional state rather than with a logical mind.
Many women battle to hang on to the marital home because they feel that they don’t want further upheaval to themselves or their children but at what cost? I know of many horror stories of women who have held onto the marital home for dear life to their detriment. They have found that they are unable to afford to run the marital home on their own and then due to the economic situation have been unable to sell it for what it was valued at on divorce.
Here are some things to consider when deciding whether or not to fight for the marital home in the divorce settlement.
Can you afford to take on the mortgage?
A mortgage is a huge financial burden and having to pay it on your own without a second income can be too much of a financial strain. It may be that you are unable to get a mortgage due to your income being insufficient. If you are not earning enough to take on the mortgage and are receiving maintenance payments, this can be tricky to navigate. Some lenders will take account of the maintenance payments, some will not, some will want to see it being paid for three months, some for six months. Can you genuinely afford to take on such a huge burden? Your emotions may be telling you that you will manage but the reality is that you may find yourself scrimping and saving and depriving yourself and the children of any treats and holidays just to make ends meet. Is it really worth it?
Can you afford the upkeep?
There are on going costs associated with keeping a property. If you live in an older house, these are going to be particularly heavy on your purse strings. New heating systems, repairs to the outside and inside of the house, costs of maintaining the garden, the cost of redecoration and new furniture all add up. If you have stretched yourself to take on the property, you will struggle to keep up with these costs.
Long-term financial security
I believe that taking the house the house in lieu of the pension fund is a really risky strategy. The house that you live in is not going to provide you with an income in retirement unless you rent out all the rooms to lodgers or you significantly downsize and release equity. Your home is generally not an income generating asset, it is an asset that costs you money. Letting go of a pension fund, which will provide you with a future income because you don’t want to let go of the marital home could be a decision that you live to regret.
Moving on emotionally
You need to ask yourself the question ‘is staying in the marital home with all of the old memories, feelings and emotions really going to help me to move on?’ It may feel familiar now in a time of great uncertainty but it will not help you to move on emotionally.
You may feel that you need to keep the house for the sake of the children. You worry that moving house will be too unsettling for them. Children adapt amazingly well though and you can make moving house a fun adventure where you involve them in the process. It may be harder for them to move on emotionally by staying in the marital home.
I remember moving into a new house with my Mum as a child after her divorce. The first night we moved in, we had barely any furniture and her friends had helped her move. We sat on the floor in the front room eating fish and chips and everyone was laughing and happy and it is a really positive childhood memory, whereas the memories that I have from the marital home are not so positive as the atmosphere was heavy and sad.
Hannah can be contacted here
Image by David Wright under a Creative Commons Licence