Photo of the legal professionals at Harry Lewis Co., LPA
Photo of the legal professionals at Harry Lewis Co., LPA

Trusted In The Columbus Area
For More Than 40 Years

Photo of the legal professionals at Harry Lewis Co., LPA

Trusted In The Columbus Area For More Than 40 Years

Addressing the marital home in an Ohio divorce

On Behalf of | Apr 29, 2020 | Divorce |

Ohio couples who are getting a divorce will have much to think about as the process moves forward. While children and support concerns will inevitably come to the forefront, property division is also a critical aspect. Dividing property can be complicated, especially if there is an item that may be of significant value and cost like a marital home. For some, it is preferable to sell the property and move on. For others, there is a desire to retain the property. Strategies to achieve this can be part of the divorce case and legal assistance may be beneficial toward that end.

Home values and mortgages may seem to be on opposite ends of the spectrum, but when seeking to retain a property in a divorce, they have equal importance. Statistically, the median value of a home in the U.S. in just shy of $250,000. The average debt owed on a mortgage is more than $200,000. If the cost was once shared by the couple, keeping the property can be a challenge. Thinking about the alternatives means having everything on the table.

While it might be emotionally and financially painful, selling the house is a viable choice. Even with that, it may not pay off the entire mortgage. There must also be a level of cooperation with the spouse – something that could present problems if it is contentious divorce. There could be disputes as to the price, how it will be split, its appraisal value and the residential situation. Legal advice can help with negotiating and setting the rules for the sale. Keeping the property is desirable for many. Depending on how much is owed on the mortgage and the monthly cost for its upkeep with insurance and maintenance, it may or may not be a wise step. The danger is that emotions and familiarity take the place of financial common sense and this leads to long-term problems like bankruptcy and needing to sell the property for less than it is worth.

Of course, it may be possible to retain the house by refinancing the loan. This might not be feasible for people whose financial circumstances have been damaged by the divorce. However, for those who have the money, the income and the credit, it could be a sensible investment. Even if a person does not have the cash readily available, a strategy is to use an investment account or retirement accounts. Removing the former spouse’s name from the mortgage is imperative to avoid disagreements about who really owns it in a legal sense.

For couples who are cordial and even friendly, they could decide to continue to co-own the property. Obviously, this can present problems for many. Still, if there are children, it will be necessary to have some form of relationship anyway. That can extend to the property to give the children the benefit of not needing to move and to maintain an item of value that could be sold and whose proceeds can be shared later. The sides should have a detailed agreement regarding payments and how they will be made. It is important to remember that if the other party stops paying his or her share, it may spark dispute.

Finally, there could be the need for more income. If there is a motivation to retain the property, then the person may need to get a second job or work more than they did before. If it was a stay-at-home spouse, getting training and education to find employment that will assist in paying for the property is a fundamental requirement. Divorce is a difficult process in myriad ways. When listing the pros and cons of keeping a marital home, having a plan may be a crucial part of deciding how to handle it. A law firm with experience in complex property disputes and addressing the future may be able to assist with deciding and taking the steps to bring it to fruition.