Divorcing in Pennsylvania inevitably means trying to divide all of a couple’s property and income that the spouses accrued during their marriage. That process can be very challenging, especially because people tend to develop emotional attachments to certain assets.
The home where a couple lives is a perfect example. Not only is real property often the most valuable shared asset that people have with their spouse, but it can also have significant emotional value because the couple may have raised their children there or experienced other important milestones at that property.
How do divorcing couples decide who actually keeps the house?
They focus on the practical
When both spouses dig in their heels to fight over property, nobody wins. It is important for people preparing for divorce to set realistic goals. For some people, keeping the house will not be a very practical objective. They may lack the income to pay the mortgage, especially after withdrawing equity to compensate their spouse. They may lack the practical skills or free time required to maintain the property. Spouses therefore need to think carefully about their personal circumstances when determining whether they should seek to keep the house or not.
They think about the children
Where one parent lives may be the determining factor for what school the children attend. Therefore, allowing the parent with more time with the children to keep the home may sometimes be the best option for promoting an easier transition for the children. They won’t have to adjust to a new house or to a new school district, which can take some of the challenges out of their parents’ divorce.
They remember it isn’t a winner-take-all issue
Getting too focused on retaining the house is easy if people believe that they will either keep the house or lose their interest in it. The value of the equity in the home will have a powerful influence on the outcome of the divorce process, and both spouses will generally have a right to some of that equity regardless of who actually stays in it.
Ultimately, having a plan to address the most valuable resources included in a marital estate – including, possibly, a home – may benefit those contemplating filing for divorce in Pennsylvania.