So often in my divorces, the wife/Mom wants to keep the marital home. Usually, it’s to keep the kids in place, but we women are the nesters so we tend to have more of an emotional connection to our homes. Also, the mortgage is a known factor that is considered in divorce negotiations.
Most divorces are negotiated using a snap shot of the financial situation today. That’s unfortunate because expenses change a lot in those first years. Unfortunately for women, their financial standard of living usually goes down and she is often left with most of the child care. Keeping the home means financial stability for them, but sometimes the reality is that the home becomes a financial and time burden. I’ve written several articles on this subject because the marital home plays a big role in most divorces.
This article will focus mainly on keeping up with home repairs and maintenance and protecting yourself from being in a home that puts you in debt and/or ends up in disrepair.
When deciding on keeping the home, ask yourself who took care of the repairs; you, your spouse or a handyman? If the answer wasn’t “you”, then ask yourself if you will be able to afford to hire someone? Now that you don’t co-parent in the same home, do you have time to make those repairs, assuming you know how? Did you put something down for ongoing maintenance in your budget or Financial Affidavit? From what I see, the answer usually is “no” and that is a big mistake!
During divorce negotiations, both spouses should prepare a property disclosure of known conditions, like when you buy or sell your home. https://www.ncrec.gov/Forms/Consumer/rec422.pdf This is particularly important if you were not the spouse in charge of home maintenance and repair. How old is the roof, water heater, HVAC, appliances, etc. These are big ticket items. What type of plumbing do you have and how old is it? Is there mold? Any leaking or rotted windows or doors?
It’s a smart idea to get a home inspection, which currently cost about $400-$500. Home inspections are NOT done when you refinance the house like they are for home purchases. If big ticket items are coming up for repair or replacement, a solution may be a home warranty. There is a $500-$700 cost involved and there are deductibles, but for known big cost items, it may be worth it. It might be something you can negotiate in the divorce. Home warranties can be renewed and it’s a better deal to go year by year rather than buy a 2-year warranty because of the way deductibles and maximum claims are handled. Shop around and research prices. There are hundreds of companies out there so the costs and quality of the companies differ. An experienced realtor can recommend companies they like.