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Marital residence: Do I stay or do I go?

The family home: It can naturally be a wellspring of good memories and comfort for a married couple. However, when the couple gets divorced, the family home can quickly turn into a source of contention.

Spouses who are going through divorce in Texas may desire to keep the family home for a wide variety of reasons. Some prefer to keep the home due to the emotional connection they have with it, whereas others want it because they will assume custody of the children and want to keep the children in the home. A few things are important to consider when contemplating keeping the marital residence in Texas.

What should I know about the family home?

First, taking into consideration the home's size, payments and utilities is essential. Even though you might want to keep the family house, especially for the sake of the children, it may not necessarily make sense to do so from a dollars-and-cents standpoint.

If you take over the home, you will become fully responsible for not only the mortgage payment, but also the property taxes, upkeep, insurance and maintenance. At the same time, your household income will likely be smaller than it was when you were married, especially if you have court-ordered support obligations added into your budget, such as spousal support payments.

Equity

If you do decide to stay in the marital home, your soon-to-be-ex is entitled to share in the home's equity. Hiring an appraiser is necessary to determine what equity you have in the home, with the appraised value minus the home-selling costs -- including seller closing costs and commissions -- equaling the equity that you will have to split with your spouse.

In addition, when making an equity determination, the court will need to account for any money that your spouse or you contributed to the house from any pre-marital assets.

If you are staying in the family home in Texas, you may choose to refinance the house to obtain cash to pay your spouse. Another option for paying your future ex is to get a brand-new second mortgage or a home equity loan. Either way, understanding your legal rights is essential to protecting your best interests during each stage of a divorce proceeding involving the marital residence.

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