Susan Rossi Cook, Attorney and Mediator

Thoughts on whether to keep the marital home

Oftentimes, among a Massachusetts couple's most valuable assets is their marital residence. Real estate remains a good and reliable investment these days, which means couples who have been together a number of years will have a lot of equity rolled up in their homes.

Likewise, owning a home comes with valuable tax incentives and, for those who have mortgage payments, a built in means of saving up wealth. Finally, one cannot overlook the non-economic benefits of owning a home, especially when one has children.

However, for those going through divorce, whether to keep the marital home is an important decision that really should be made with the help of an experienced family law attorney and, as necessary, financial experts. There are some important guidelines one can keep in mind, however.

First, one must honestly ask himself whether he can afford to keep up the marital property on his income alone, that is, without counting on his spouse to pay child support or alimony. If the answer to this question is no, then no matter how strong of an investment the marital home has been, it may be time to move on.

Assuming one can afford to keep the home, however, she should carfully consider doing so. The reason is that, financially, real estate is a good investment, and home ownership is something our society encourages via a variety of tax breaks and other incentives.

In short, it may be worth the inconvenience of having to refinance and even buy out one's spouse in order to hang on to what may in the long term prove to be an invaluable financial resource.

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Susan Rossi Cook, Attorney and Mediator

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