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Selling Your House After a Divorce

Selling Your House After a Divorce

Selling Your House After a Divorce

A home is often the single largest asset a married couple will own, and following a divorce, many couples decide to sell the matrimonial home and divide the proceeds. If the divorce has been contentious, as many are, selling the matrimonial home is one of the most stressful aspects of the marriage breakdown. In other situations, one partner will fight to gain sole ownership of the home, only to discover they are financially unable to keep up the house on their own, or that the house holds too many memories from the failed marriage and they no longer want to live there.

Depending on the length of the marriage, there are often strong emotions tied to the matrimonial home. Perhaps the couple bought it together, or one partner inherited it from his or her parents. Usually there are conflicting emotions tied to the house, which make selling it a very stressful experience for some people. Couples may have had happy memories there, such as bringing home their first child or celebrating holidays. Many times, there are also feelings of anger and resentment connected to the marital home, such as conflict over the household budget or the strain a large mortgage placed on the failed relationship.

It is important to work with your ex-spouse, lawyer and/or mediator to decide on a concrete plan for selling your house following a divorce, because maintaining a home is costly and stressful. Not planning for, or delaying the sale of your house can result in added expenses, as well as the emotional burden of prolonging finalization of your marital assets. If the house is still owned by both spouses, it may be a source of further conflict and costly litigation around who pays the mortgage and maintenance, as well as details about who gets to live in the house. It is important to understand how much money home ownership entails when you decide to keep or sell your house after a divorce.

There are several significant costs related to the ownership and upkeep of a house, including:

  • Property taxes
  • Mortgage payments and fees
  • Insurance
  • Utilities
  • Regular maintenance (like snow removal, gardening, duct cleaning)
  • Emergency repairs (roof leaks, rodent infestation, storm damage)
  • HOA fees if applicable
  • Upgrades and major improvements (such as replacing old furnaces)


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Sometimes people delay in selling their house following a divorce, as they believe they need time to process such a big change in their lives. For others, selling the marital home quickly is a liberating experience, giving them financial freedom from their former spouse and opening doors to a new life where they can choose a home on their own, without any 'skeletons' in the closet. Carefully consider all the costs, financial and emotional, involved with maintaining the marital home before you choose to keep or sell your house after a divorce. Because a home is such a large asset, the decisions you make at this time will have a big impact on the type of lifestyle you can have following your divorce.