Transitioning Homes During Divorce: Stress, Finances, and Planning

The idea of buying a house is stressful in and of itself. Any of you reading this blog post can probably attest to that. Buying a house, selling a house, moving, packing, getting kids ready to go- the list goes on and on as far as responsibilities are concerned. These are not jobs that you can outsource, either. We are used to being able to have other people perform a certain amount of work for us in our daily lives that we prefer not to do. From the making of our cup of coffee in the morning to the entertainment of our families in the evening, so much of our day is spent with others performing work for us. With few exceptions, there isn’t much about the moving process that someone else can do for us. Rather, we do the work and the planning.

Trying to figure out a move during a divorce is a huge hassle and very stressful. There are no two ways about that. Whereas if you are comfortable with the price, you are purchasing the house at, have money in savings, have a secure income and the kids are excited, a move in normal times can be an adventure. However, a move during a divorce is an adventure in stress and responsibility management. Imagine having to keep up with the daily responsibilities of work, family life, your divorce, and the logistics of a move. I’m tired just thinking about it. Now imagine having to do all these things when you are stressed, upset, and exhausted due to all these issues. Not fun.

However, if you are in a position where a move in some capacity is relevant to your divorce then you have come to the right place. Moving during a divorce means that your case is going to be impacted by the decision to plant new roots. Divorce is far from the ideal time to move but if that is your decision, or if it has become necessary for some reason, then it is certainly something that you can manage successfully. We do not want to make it seem like there is nothing you can do to make the move work for you and your family. With that said, please allow this blog post to serve as a way for you to become introduced to this topic so that you can avoid mistakes and develop a strategy for your case based on intentionality.

As with anything that the Law Office of Bryan Fagan produces for our website or blog, the scenarios we run through here are designed to provide a general audience with the most amount of information possible. We understand that there are going to be circumstances in your life, most likely, which are not discussed herein. Therefore, please do not accept this information as the gospel truth as far as what it means to go through a divorce and move simultaneously. This blog post is an informational resource and should not be viewed as the sole source of information that you should consider as you plan for a divorce or a move.

For specific information which can help guide you through your divorce please do not hesitate to reach out to the Law Office of Bryan Fagan today. We not only can answer questions about moving during a divorce but also those which relate to children’s issues like custody, visitation, and child support. How your divorce impacts your family is a unique set of circumstances and factors which deserve to be acknowledged and considered. With that said, we hope that you can contact us for a free of charge consultation. These are available six days a week in person, over the phone, and via video.

The financial aspects of moving during a divorce

Let’s begin by stating our main point regarding moving and divorce: don’t do it unless it becomes necessary. The decision to move during a divorce is not one that you should take lightly. You should think through it to the point where it becomes obvious that there are such significant challenges associated with the move that you should not try it. There is plenty of time to move after a divorce comes to an end. You can allow the hectic schedule, the stress, and the unpleasantness of the divorce to pass you by rather than try and complicate things further by getting a divorce. Rather, take your time and be intentional about your case and focus your energy on your family during this time.

However, if you do plan on moving during a divorce there are some factors for you to consider. Initially, in the divorce, you will be working under temporary orders. Temporary orders are court orders which will govern your behavior during the divorce. These temporary orders typically relate to topics like who will be paying what bills during the divorce, how visitation time with the kids will work as well as child support payments. Those are the main topics that temporary orders tend to address. The use of the family home also is a relevant topic and will be discussed within temporary orders.

The circumstances of your family will greatly impact how those temporary orders look. First of all, the parent who is named the primary conservator of the children needs to be established. This is the parent who will live with the children and receive child support on behalf of the kids. The primary conservator will have the ability to remain in the family house in most divorce cases. A court will want to maintain a sense of stability and consistency for the children during the case, at the very least. Therefore, if you are named as the primary conservator of the children temporarily then you can remain in the house.

When it comes to staying in the family house during the divorce, the catch is that you need to be prepared for the bills and responsibilities which come with staying in the house. For instance, you need to ask yourself who will be paying the mortgage and how. If you are a stay-at-home mom who will be staying in the house are you going to start working to pay the mortgage? Have you and your spouse discussed the circumstances surrounding the mortgage and how you are going to account for this payment? If not, when are you going to? It is important to get your agreement into the temporary orders so you can enforce them if your spouse decides to go back on their word and violate that agreement.

Once you have figured out how you are going to pay the mortgage during the divorce, the upkeep, maintenance, and bills associated with the house need to be accounted for. Many people fight as hard as possible to stay in the house during the divorce but do not fully consider the responsibilities associated with doing so. Even if you think that you can squeak by and pay the mortgage it is an entirely different subject altogether when it comes to paying the bills associated with the house, as well. You and your spouse should think through this aspect of the home and decide within your temporary orders as far as how those bills are going to be paid.

If your spouse is paying the mortgage during the divorce, then that may prevent him from also paying temporary spousal support. You should consider which you need more and whether moving out of the house is a better option for all parties when the case is over with. Thinking ahead toward the end of your divorce is a wise move. Do not make decisions with only the next few months in mind. Negotiating during the divorce to keep a house that you cannot afford to live in on your own would be a major mistake.

For now, you should ensure that you can afford to live in the house for the duration of your divorce. Think through all household bills, utilities, lawn maintenance, etc. so that no balls are dropped and that your family can quickly get into the “new normal” of living in a separate housing. If your spouse is going to move out of the house, then you should be as hospitable as possible as far as allowing him to return to retrieve clothing and handle the logistics of that move. The more stress you add into the home during this time the worse it will be for all parties involved- including your children.

When you live in the family house during the divorce you need to consider what can be done to plan for an eventual move. Most everyone reading this blog who owns a home has a mortgage on that home. If the house is community property, then it will be divided after the case. While we are on this subject, let’s spend some time discussing what community property is before we conclude our blog post with additional information on selling a house and structuring the sale of the home in your Final Decree of Divorce.

Community property is marital property in Texas

If you are looking through blog posts and articles online to gain information about the divorce process, then good for you. It is great to gather as much information as you can during this phase of your case so that you are as prepared as possible for whatever may come when your divorce is filed. A term that you may have come across in performing your research is “marital property.” Using context clues, you likely figured out that marital property is a property that came from your marriage. Marital property is divisible in a divorce. This means that a judge can order marital property to be divided between you and your co-parent. Here is where that becomes important in the context of a divorce.

Texas is a community property state. This means that our state treats marital property differently than most other states in the country. Community property is presumed to be all the property owned by you and your spouse at the time of your divorce. This presumption can be rebutted with evidence. Both you and your spouse likely own some separate property which would be property owned before your current marriage. This separate property cannot be divided in a divorce.

If you purchased your family home during the marriage, then it likely represents the most expensive and valuable asset in your community estate. All the appreciation that homes have seen in the Houston area over the past decade is a good thing in the sense that your home’s value has likely skyrocketed. The equity in the home depends upon the house’s value as well as the amount owed on a mortgage. Whatever the equity total is you should start to figure that out as closely as possible. It will impact how you negotiate on the rest of your community property division. Items like bank accounts, investments, retirement accounts, personal property, and other items all make up the community property estate. You and your spouse must determine a method for dividing that property or will need to ask a judge to do it for you.

For the sake of today’s blog post, we are going to assume that the family house is community property. If the house were separate property, then there would be much less to write about, and this would not be a very interesting blog post. If you are interested in learning more about the concepts of reimbursement, separate property, and topics like this then please search for those topics on our website once you have gone through today’s blog post.

Selling a house and moving during and after a divorce

The most opportune time to move is after a divorce. If you are the spouse who was not awarded use of the house during the divorce, then you may have to move to an apartment or somewhere else, but this is not the big move that most of us have in mind during a divorce. If you do not have the right to use your family house during the divorce, then you need to find a reasonable place for you to live based on your reduced budget and the other costs of your divorce case. If you have children, then you should find a suitable place within your budget that will not break the bank and will allow your children to be comfortable. You have time to save up money after the divorce and buy a home that is more suitable for you in the long term.

You and your spouse need to run a new budget for your household based on your sole income. As I alluded to earlier in today’s blog post, most home mortgages are based on the idea that you and your spouse will both be paying the mortgage together. Therefore, it is unlikely that a mortgage lender would have agreed to give you the same loan that they did when he bought the house had you been a single-income family. For that reason, you need to think long and hard about whether you can afford to remain in the family house even after your divorce. You may not have the money or resources for you to justify doing so and there are consequences to remaining in a house that you cannot afford.

Moving to the conclusion of a divorce or after a divorce is a good idea when you cannot afford the house payments. This may sound like the most obvious statement in the world, but you may be surprised to find out that many people who go through a divorce attempt to stay in a house that they cannot afford to make their children happy. Many parents in your position will feel guilty due to the changes that are occurring for their children. As a result, parents will want to do everything they can to stay in a house to help the children from an emotional perspective. However, a great deal of harm is done to a family when they have to move because the house is being foreclosed upon or a parent cannot afford to pay the property taxes or the bills associated with the home.

If you or your spouse will be remaining in the house after the divorce, then it is important to work with an experienced family law attorney. An experienced family attorney can help to draft and create documents that will need to be completed and filed with your county clerk to protect both you and your spouse. Documents like deeds of trust to secure assumption as well as special warranty deeds can tie up loose ends associated with removing one spouse from the deed and allowing the other spouse to take on the responsibility of paying a mortgage.

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Other Related Articles:

  1. Own a home and going through a Texas divorce? Learn your options in this blog post
  2. How to protect your home in a Texas divorce
  3. What is a Stay-at-home Wife Entitled To in a Divorce in Texas?
  4. What Happens to the Marital Home in Divorce?
  5. Why can my home be divided during the divorce?
  6. Navigating the Complexities: Determining Ownership of the Family Home in a Texas Divorce
  7. Does refinancing a home change ownership of it in relation to a Texas divorce?
  8. Read this blog post before moving out of the family home in a Texas divorce
  9. Own a home and going through a Texas divorce? Learn your options in this blog post
  10. Interested in how to pull equity out of your family home after a divorce? Read this blog post
  11. Valuing the family home in a Texas divorce
  12. Should you leave your family home before starting a Texas divorce?
  13. What will happen with your family home in a Texas divorce?
  14. Interested in how a divorce court will value your home? Read this blog post to find out how
  15. What does temporary exclusive use of the home mean in the context of a Texas divorce?
  16. Are your marital arguments an indicator of a future divorce?

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At the Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC, the firm wants to get to know your case before they commit to work with you. They offer all potential clients a no-obligation, free consultation where you can discuss your case under the client-attorney privilege. This means that everything you say will be kept private and the firm will respectfully advise you at no charge. You can learn more about Texas divorce law and get a good idea of how you want to proceed with your case.

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