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Tips for addressing the family home during property division

The end of a marriage can be a difficult time in the lives of many Florida residents. Coming to terms with the fact that one's trajectory is about to change can be stressful, and the emotional reaction that many spouses have is to hold on tight to those things that seem stable. For some, retaining the family home becomes a focus within the divorce, to the exclusion of all other things. While it is understandable to want to remain living within one's home, keeping the house is often not the best possible property division move.

A house is more than just a home; it is also the single biggest investment that an individual or family will make during their lifetime. During divorce, each spouse is entitled to a share in the value of that property, and the individual who elects to remain within the home will have to compensate the other party for his or her share. This usually means ceding a greater portion of other assets during divorce negotiations, such as retirement savings, investments or other property. Doing so can leave one in a precarious financial position, especially if the value of the home declines before it is time to sell the property.

The ultimate disposition of the home is another matter that deserves consideration. Although real estate values continue to climb, there is still a great deal of volatility within many local markets. The fact of the matter is that no matter what a home is appraised for at any given point in time, it is ultimately only worth what a buyer is willing to pay. This makes negotiating the division of this asset a difficult task.

For those in Florida who are preparing to enter the property division process, it is important to do so with a clear head and an eye toward the future. If the desire to retain the family home is strong, then a carefully constructed negotiation strategy should be crafted that ensures that a sufficient level of financial security is achieved. For many, an objective assessment of the matter will lead to the realization that keeping the house does not make financial sense.  

Source: unionleader.com, "Money Sense: Financial mistakes to avoid during a divorce settlement", Marc A Hebert, May 2, 2015

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