The end of the family home

On behalf of Stange Law Firm, PC posted in divorce on Friday, April 1, 2016.

Home is where the heart is, and as often, where our family lives. We often view “home” as being virtually synonymous with “family.” We refer to the “family home.” And when we refer to our parent’s house, we may unconsciously speak of going “home,” even if we have not lived there for years and have a house of our own, with our own spouse and children who reside there.

So when a divorce looms on the horizon, one of the most tangible events of the reality of that event is when one spouse moves out. Of course, that really resolves nothing, as most Missouri residents also have a mortgage on their home here in Columbia, and with the divorce come questions of how to deal with that mortgage.

In a perfect world, if one spouse wished to keep the home and all of its emotional sentiment, they simply would buy out the other spouse and refinance the property. Of course, in that world, they may not have needed a mortgage in the first place.

In most cases, sad as it may be, selling the home is the best way to deal with this. If you have equity, you will each receive a portion of that equity and be able to use it towards the purchase or rental of new property.

During the last decade, many people could not divorce because they owed more on the mortgage than the house would bring at a sale, and they typically did not have sufficient reserves of cash to make up the difference.

No matter what you decide, you must recognize that the mortgage is a contact between you, your spouse and the lender, and only by refinancing or selling the property can you end that relationship. Your divorce settlement is not binding on the lender, and if your spouse keeps the home, the lender could still come after you for payment if they become delinquent.

Source:, “What Happens to Your Mortgage in a Divorce?” Ashley Eneriz / Wise Bread, March 29, 2016

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