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3 options for your house during divorce

Your spouse asks you for a divorce, and the first thing you think of is the house. You know your marriage has frayed, but you love that house. You love the land around it, the neighbors and the style. It is your dream home, and you felt elated when you bought it together 10 years ago.

Now what? What can you do with the house during the divorce process? Below are three potential options:

1. Keep the home

Your first option is simply to keep it. The best way to do this is to refinance it. You and your spouse are both on the mortgage you have right now. You want to refinance it into just your name.

Moreover, your spouse probably wants you to refinance it. If you do not, even if your spouse is no longer on the deed, the mortgage company still holds both of you responsible for the monthly payments. If you failed to make them for any reason, they could contact your ex and ask for payment, even if he or she had not lived in the home in years.

Refinancing can be tricky since you need to qualify for the entire mortgage on your own, but it is also the best way to cleanly transfer the home into your possession alone. Your spouse can take other assets during the property division process.

2. Sell the home

The next option is to sell the house. This is one of the most common courses of action, and it's what many experts consider your best option. This is especially true if the home's value has gone up and/or if you have paid off a significant amount of your mortgage. Perhaps you still owe $300,000, for instance, but you know the house will sell for $500,000 in the current market. Selling it and splitting that $200,000 in profit makes property division simpler and you can both use the $100,000 as you find new places to live. 

One of the biggest reasons people do not want to sell, despite the simplicity, is that they become attached to the house. In some cases, it's a dream home. In other cases, they raised children there and have an emotional connection to the home. 

3. Rent out the home

Sometimes, couples opt to rent out the home while deciding what to do with it. This covers the mortgage payments and buys them some time. This is especially common if the market dips and the home's value is too low. Renting it for a year may allow the value to rebound so the eventual sale brings in more capital for both of you. 

Every case is different, so you will need to decide the best course of action as you move through the divorce process. Just make sure you are well aware of your legal rights and the options you have.

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