You are getting separated, it doesn’t matter whether you are married or common-law, 30 or 55, things are about to change.
1 large piece of that change puzzle is the house. It’s the place where you shared your hopes and dreams and spent a great deal of time and money. You intended to raise your children there or did raise your children there. Let’s not forget that other than the pension, it is usually one of a family’s greatest assets. What to do with the house is a big decision that you and your ex will need to make.
Should you keep it? It was your dream house after all and you didn’t kill this dream!
Maybe your ex should keep it? That way they will figure out how much time and money goes into maintaining it!
Sell the house? I can’t afford to keep it and if I can’t have it, neither can my ex!
The reality is that you have to do something. One of you can buy the other out or you can sell it. Yes there are shorter term solutions like continuing to live together (while being separated) and nesting however there needs to be a longer term solution.
Don’t just keep the house because you have an emotional attachment it, you think others want you to keep it, your ex can’t afford to keep it or that you don’t want to put the children through any more change.
If your children are minors, they will adjust. They will be comfortable in any place that you make home. They are tied to their school, their friends and their extra-curricular activities – not the actual house (unless you have a pool, then they might be tied to the pool haha).
If your children are adults, they will adjust. They have their own lives to live. Although they may be sad to see the house where they grew up sold, they will want you to be happy and financially stable more.
There are memories of the past and hopes of the future tied to your house. It is where the children are most comfortable (no matter what age). There are many emotions tied to these bricks, it was your home. When thinking about the house however you need to be logical and practical and think about it in a selfish way. What do YOU need going forward?
- Can you afford it? (I don’t mean just afford it, I mean not be house broke)
- Can you afford to buy your ex out of his/her equity?
- Are you willing to trade pension or retirement funds to keep the house? You need to understand which investment is likely to produce a higher return on investment.
- Is the house the right size for you now?
- Would downsizing and putting money towards retirement be a better financial option?
- Be realistic about the condition of your home. Can you afford to maintain it?
- What are other options if you were to move? Location? Condo? Smaller house? Price?
Contrary to popular belief, decisions around the house should be financial and not emotional during separation and divorce.
A house is only a home when you make it one, therefore it stands to reason that you can make any house your home.
Julie Gill Q.Med, CDFA