Divorce and your home: The main options

Think that you have to sell your house during a divorce? Many couples do, of course. It often just makes the most sense based on needs and affordability, and it makes it easier to divide assets.

That said, you don’t have to sell. There are some other options and situations to consider.

First of all, did one of you buy the house before the marriage? Though it can get complicated based on how you made your mortgage payments — if you used your spouse’s money — you may be able to simply keep the house if you owned it first and did not buy it with your spouse.

Another option, if you did buy it together, is just to pay your spouse their value and buy them out of the mortgage. If you could sell the house and earn $100,000 to split up, for instance, you could pay your spouse $50,000 or give them the equivalent assets, and then you could keep the home. You may have to go out and refinance in your own name, however.

One fairly progressive idea that doesn’t work for everyone is to keep the home together. Some couples just rent the house out, using it as income and waiting for the value to go up before they sell. Others actually share the house, moving in and out and letting the children live there all the time. This is called “nesting” and it keeps things simple for the kids, though harder for the parents.

What should you do? Every situation is different, of course, but you can see that it pays to really think through all of the options that you have.