Should I Try to Keep the Marital Home in My Divorce?
Divorce rocks the finances of every couple, including those with higher incomes and assets. Weathering the fallout of the loss of a combined income and the division of marital assets is one of the hardest adjustments any divorced person must make. Knowing which assets to take and which are better off relinquished or sold is not easy, especially when factoring in the emotional attachment spouses form over certain items. However, finding the right balance is the only way most divorced individuals have a realistic chance of recovering from this financial shift. The marital home is the largest physical asset most couples own, and it often looms large in the property settlement process.
Equitable division is the rule that governs property division in Illinois, which means the court will look for a fair division of assets, but not necessarily an equal one. Under this system, a spouse may be required to argue why he or she should receive a certain asset. When addressing the marital home, specific questions should be asked before making a strong stance in favor of keeping this property.
Questions to Ask About Keeping the Family Home
In many cases, at least one spouse will form a strong attachment to the family home, and either spouse may find it difficult to think of selling the home or giving up ownership to the other spouse. Good reasons do exist for keeping the home, including providing continuity for children, maintaining some form of financial security, and the possibility of appreciation in value.
However, homes are a large expense. Spouses going through divorce must ask whether they can afford the mortgage, maintenance, and tax consequences of keeping the home on a single income. In other words, is the long-term financial burden of home ownership a good use of one’s resources, or would buying a smaller or less expensive home, taking the proceeds from the sale to build a nest egg, or taking a buyout from the other spouse better serve one’s economic stability? Answering this question may not be easy, but it is an integral part of planning for financial security following divorce.
General Property Division Concerns
Studies have repeatedly shown that recouping the financial losses of divorce can take considerable amounts of time and that women are particularly at risk of never fully replacing the wealth and income lost in divorce. As a result, obtaining the best possible property settlement is key to mitigating the effects of this likelihood.
Dividing tangible assets apart from the marital home is generally not an issue in terms of assigning an accurate and verifiable value for items of physical property. However, a sense of certainty and fairness is not always apparent with intangible assets such as financial accounts, retirement accounts, and securities. The value of these assets can greatly fluctuate, and determining a division that fairly divides them can be difficult to accomplish.
Any asset that relies on the stock market to derive value will be hard to evaluate, and it can be even harder to know when to liquidate these assets to get the highest possible value. If genuine concerns about depressed or volatile markets are present in a divorce case, asking the court to reserve the resolution of the division of the affected asset until a later date may be the best way to ensure that each spouse receives a fair value. An experienced divorce attorney will know how to address this concern so that a spouse’s interests are adequately protected.
Contact a Barrington Divorce Lawyer
Proper financial planning is essential to fully account for the impact of divorce, and this makes the issue of asset division a pivotal part of many divorce cases. Skilled Inverness property division attorney Nicholas W. Richardson has extensive knowledge of the legal and financial issues involved in dividing marital property, and he is here to help you negotiate a fair settlement. Contact our office at 847.873.6741 to schedule your free initial consultation.