Janet L. Goehle, Attorney at Law
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Is keeping your home a good idea?

One difficult decision for parents of children in a divorce is what to do with their family home. With all that is going on emotionally with the relationships in a divorce, it seems particularly unfair to potentially further destabilize the children by forcing them to move to a new home, but in many cases, it may be necessary.

Most people in Minnesota who buy a home must do so with the aid of a mortgage. During a divorce, a mortgage can pose a challenge as it is a contract between the lender and the husband and wife. When the couple divorces, it has no effect on that contract. From the lenders perspective, you are two independent individuals who guarantee the repayment of the loan, regardless of where you live.

To end that contractual relationship, you need to sell the home and pay off the loan balance or refinance the contract to the sole party's name that will remain in the home. With all of the financial tumult that results from a divorce, that may be difficult.  You would need to qualify for a loan on your own in your post-divorce financial condition.

If you decide to remain in your home after a divorce, you should first make a very careful examination of all of your finances, including income and debt and realistically assess if you can afford that home.

A mortgage is only one of the many expenses that go along with owning a home, and you need to be certain that you can afford the taxes, insurance, and the many maintenance costs that follow.

With all the stress of a divorce, you may not want to increase it further by attempting to keep a home you can no longer afford. It could leave you without cash to cover other expenses, or force you to deny your children other activities and vacations because of that expense.

Source: time.com, "What Happens to Your Mortgage in a Divorce?" Ashley Eneriz / Wise Bread, March 29, 2016

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