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Dividing property: Options for the family home

The family home has both sentimental and financial value. For many couples in Florida, it is their largest shared asset. They likely invest a great deal of money into their home and, in many cases, time and effort spent on its upkeep. When couples are dividing property during the divorce process, they must decide how to handle splitting the couple's interest in the house.

There are several options. Many couples choose to sell the house and divide the profit. While this is the easiest in some senses, there may be complications. For example, if a divorce happens when the housing market is poor, there may be difficulty selling the house. In some cases, renting the house until the housing market improves is a viable option.

However, there is often a great deal of sentimental value attached to a house, and some parents decide that it is in the best interest of the children to remain in the house. In this case, one spouse could buy out the other when it is financially feasible. In some cases, a delayed buyout -- in which the spouse who remains in the house continues making payments until he or she is able to buy the other spouse out -- may be appropriate. This option comes with several complications as the spouse who leaves remains on the mortgage and could be negatively impacted if there are missed mortgage payments, among other potential complications.

Regardless of the decision that is ultimately made, having an attorney put any agreements in writing and ensuring that there is no confusion can help with the process of dividing property. A professional such as this can often help a person going through a divorce think beyond one's emotions and make decisions that are both fair and in his or her best interests. While the decision to divorce may be a difficult for people in Florida to make, doing so is often the first step to a happier, more fulfilling life.

Source:, "How to Divide a House When You're Getting a Divorce", Liz Alterman, June 7, 2016

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