Many if not most of the married couples who live in the greater Houston area own a family residence. The family home may well be the only one the couple’s children have ever known, and it may also represent the couple’s most valuable asset.
Since Texas is a community property state, there is a strong likelihood that both spouses will be entitled to one-half of the value of the family home.
However, even if the couple agrees as much, there are still questions about who should actually get the home.
Can I afford to keep the family home?
It is very easy to get caught up in the emotions of wanting to hang on to the family home after a divorce. This is not necessarily a bad thing.
In fact, if a family has children, it may be best for the kids to stay in the home with the parent who will be watching them most of the time, if only to ensure that the children have some sense of stability during a difficult time.
However, a person needs to be sure that he can actually afford to make payments on the home.
Usually, the person who keeps the home will also be expected to pay the mortgage, taxes, repairs and other expenses, even though this can be negotiated in some cases.
If the person cannot keep up on his payments, he should consider other options aside from staying in the home. One option is just to sell the house and divide the equity so that both spouses can get a fresh start in a new home of their choosing.
On a related point, the person may also need to refinance the mortgage in her own name, getting her spouse off of the loan documents and deed. If she is having financial struggles or does not make enough income, refinancing can be a tough sale to pitch to a bank or mortgage lender.
Finally, if the house has equity in it, the person who wants to keep it may have to figure out a way to buy out his spouse’s share of the equity.
In short, while keeping the family residence is a valid legal option that works well in many cases, a Texas resident should consider her legal alternatives carefully.