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Should you fight for the house in your divorce?

There are many things worth fighting for in your divorce. Chances are good that you believe the family home is one of them. But could you be wrong?

Family homes carry both literal price tags and heavy emotional attachments. The difficulty is learning how to separate the two and considering the cost of both dispassionately.

If both you and your soon-to-be ex are battling it out for the house, below are some things to consider.

If no agreement is reached, the court can order the property to be sold.

Sound harsh? Perhaps, but if neither side is willing (or able) to buy the other out, this may be the only way that the major asset from the marriage is equitably split.

The custodial parent may have the upper hand.

Family court judges must base their decisions on the best interests of the children. Because maintaining stability is better for children in almost all cases, judges frequently award the use of the family home to the custodial parent while the children are minors. The other spouse may even be ordered to pay spousal support that will help the custodial parent be able to afford the home.

If the home was inherited from one side of the family, it usually will remain with the spouse from that family.

If generations of your ancestors were reared in the family home, it's highly likely the judge will decide the home shall remain yours. But don't get too excited, as its value will be offset in other ways that could make life quite uncomfortable later.

For example, you may have to surrender your share of a lucrative 401(k) or other pension benefits. Fast forward 10 or 20 years to when the kids are gone and you're facing retirement. Without benefits, all that you have is a piece of property that needs a lot of upkeep and maintenance. Don't get stuck with a white elephant you can't even sell.

It can be confusing trying to decide what to fight for and what to concede. Your family law attorney can provide advice and counsel during these decisions.

Source: Realtor.com, "Getting a Divorce? Here’s Why You Might Not Get the House," Warren Christopher Freiberg, accessed June 16, 2017

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