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The marital home may be the greatest single asset of your marriage, but it may become a point of contention in your divorce given its financial and emotional value. You should understand both your legal rights and economic realities before making any decisions. Also, if you have children, their needs are yet another factor.
The house is an asset and therefore subject to division according to your state’s property division law. You will want to know what percentage of the house belongs to you and also whether the court would order the house conveyed to you or to your spouse. Since every state is different, we strongly encourage you to use our state directory to research the applicable law. Find your state. However, as you will see, practical considerations, not the law, often dictate 1) who gets the house, 2) the terms of the buyout, and 3) if the house is sold to a third party.
If you want to keep the house, you will have to “buy out” your spouse, usually through a new mortgage. However, you might not be able to afford a new, larger mortgage. Here is a handy mortgage calculator to see how large a mortgage you can handle. If you are unsure of your post-divorce income (alimony, child support, etc.) check your state resource page for reference. If you can’t afford a new mortgage, the house will most likely be sold and you would be entitled to your share of the equity.
We suggest that you work constructively with your spouse to make the most advantageous decision.