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Four things to consider about keeping a house in a divorce

A divorce represents a difficult time in most people's lives. Not only are you ending a marriage, but you also preparing to live an entirely new life, largely on your own. Keeping the marital home can provide stability and familiarity. If you are nervous about all the changes, this may be incredibly appealing.

Staying in your home may make sense, or it can prove unwise. Before you push to keep the house, you may want to answer these questions for yourself.

Can you afford the mortgage and maintenance?

Being able to afford a home is more than paying the mortgage. You must pay the insurance and taxes, plus all the utilities including water, electricity and gas. Then there are expenses like cable TV and internet. All of this is on top of your regular expenses like groceries, car payments, credit cards and entertainment expenses. You likely were paying many of these bills before, but now you will be solely responsible for these bills.

A home also requires maintenance. You need to have enough money to pay for needed repairs, like a new water heater, washer or maybe a roof. Many people do not have extra roof money lying around, but you should be able to set aside some money each month for these repairs. Sit down with a list of your monthly bills, and figure out if you can reasonably afford to pay for everything.

Why do you like living in your house?

Some people like the privacy of owning their own home. Others enjoy their ability to decorate to their taste. Some have sentimental attachment to memories created there. If you have children, you likely made some wonderful memories with your children at your home. Keeping the house can also provide stability for your kids. Write down all the reasons you want to stay. Then evaluate whether this house specifically provides those things, or if you could get these features somewhere else.

Will you have to give up too much to keep the house?

If you are not selling the marital home, it is still subject to equitable division. That means property is divided equitably, but not necessarily fifty-fifty. The home may be the largest asset you and your former spouse own, so if you keep it, you must give some assets up. You may have to pay your former partner cash or give up some of your retirement savings. You need to think about whether that is the best financial decision.

Do you think you will be approved for a new mortgage loan?

Assuming both of your names are on the mortgage, you must refinance to remove your soon-to-be ex from the mortgage loan. This means applying for a new loan on your home. The bank will approve you based on your financial merit, including your income and credit score. Lenders typically decide by calculating your debt-to-income ratio. Nerd Wallet states most banks are looking for a ratio of 36 percent or less. If you do not meet this threshold, you may not be able to get approved for a new loan.

Staying in your current home may feel like the right decision emotionally. However, you must evaluate financial considerations as well. If you decide you can afford to stay and will likely be approved for a new loan, keeping the house may be the right thing to do.

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