For many divorcing couples, the marital home represents the largest physical asset they own. While it is not uncommon for one spouse to keep the home after the divorce – either based on the overall property division or buying out the other spouse’s share – the divorcing couple usually decides to sell the home and split the profits. The central question, however, is whether to sell before or after the divorce process.
While there is no clear right answer, couples should thoroughly examine their unique financial circumstances as well as the current real estate market and determine the best course of action.
Selling the house before the divorce
Many couples simply choose to sell the home before the divorce and split the profits. This allows them to make a clean break with their past life together as well as use the profit to fund their new, independent futures. Unfortunately, selling the home while the divorce is still active can delay the divorce process itself. This is especially prevalent if the real estate market is saturated with inventory or it is a buyer’s market. Additionally, selling the house means a significant amount of cooperation from packing and staging to realtor paperwork. A couple at odds might not want to spend this extra time together.
Selling the house after the divorce
Many divorcing couples choose to avoid certain drawbacks and wait to sell their property until they have finalized the divorce. By waiting for after the divorce, couples have a chance to let their feeling settle and potentially improve their communication. Removing the stress of the divorce process from the equation, they can approach the sale of the home in a more professional manner and take the time to maximize their profit. Unfortunately, this also means that home ownership ties the former spouses together for longer. There is no “clean break” when the court finalizes the divorce. For many couples, divorce became a reality because they were tired of each other’s company and wanted to be apart.
It is wise to carefully consider your options when moving through the divorce process. There is no one-size-fits-all answer to complex property division questions.