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Deciding whether to keep the house in a divorce

When couples divorce, often the largest asset to be divided is the family home. There are typically two ways to halve this asset — one spouse can buy out the other or the house can be sold and the profits split.

But should you battle it out with your spouse to keep the house? That depends on many factors, not the least of which is at which stage of your life you choose to get divorced. Read on for some tips to help you decide whether to fight your ex-spouse for the house.

The pros of keeping the house

If you have minor children, the stress and trauma of divorce may be lessened if they are able to continue living in the same environment. Especially if they would have to change schools, this might be the best solution.

You also have to consider your financial situation post-divorce. Will you be able to afford the home, its upkeep, insurance and taxes? If so, you may be in a good position to maintain your present living situation.

You also may be emotionally tied to the home, and remaining in the house where you reared your children and enjoyed better years with your ex may bring you a measure of comfort. If you have friends and an active lifestyle where it makes sense for you to remain where you are, this might be a good choice for you.

The cons of keeping the home

Obviously, if you do not have the resources to remain in the home and cover any necessary maintenance tasks or repairs, it's futile to wage a fight for the family home. Better to cut your losses and use the proceeds to start your life anew.

Sometimes keeping the family home allows you to remain stuck in a rut. No longer married, you remain tethered to a tangible asset that reminds you daily of a life that you no longer have. Instead of deriving comfort from your memories, keeping the family home could drive you into a deep depression.

Older divorced individuals may no longer be able to handle the upkeep on a large home. Your major asset could fall into disrepair and become a white elephant, too damaged to command the full price on the market.

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