The family home is a source of pride for married couples. You keep it clean, take care of the lawn and, hopefully, feel good about this major asset you purchased with your spouse. Because each spouse has an attachment to the home, if they decide to divorce, they may fight bitterly over who gets to keep it. If you do want to keep the family home following a divorce, there are some steps you will need to take.
Property division in New York
First, it is important to understand property division laws in New York. Like many states, New York follows the equitable distribution model for the division of property in divorce. This means that all marital assets, including the family home if purchased while married, will be divided between spouses. This division is based on what the court deems to be fair given each party’s financial circumstances. It is not a given that the split will be 50/50. So, if you want to keep the family home, you will need to be prepared to exchange some assets of equal value or look into a buy-out.
Keeping the family home
If you want to keep the family home, it is important to have an appropriate estimate of what the home is worth. This involves having the home valued by a professional. Not only that, but you and your ex will have to agree on a fair value of the home. Once you know your equity in the home, you can determine how much you will need to pay to buy out your spouse’s share in the home.
Second, if you want to keep the family home, you must have enough liquidity to buy out your ex. You may be able to exchange your equity in the home for marital property of a similar value. If not, you will need to come up with the cash to afford a buy-out. Some people opt to take out a loan to afford the buy-out. If you choose this option, make sure it will not leave you “house poor.”
Do you really want to fight for the family home?
Some people will find that, once they determine the value of the home and what it would take to execute a buy-out, that it is better to walk away from the property. They might sell the property with their ex and divide the proceeds. Still, if you really do want to fight for the family home and believe you can afford it, it may benefit you to take the steps necessary to make that happen.