Women: Don’t be stupid. Keep the house in the divorce

I mentioned before: when I got divorced it was critical that I keep the house. I had a lot going for me: my ex moved out, unannounced, I had a job and good credit, and I have custody of the kids. Plus we had a lot of equity in the home and mortgage rates have been at an all-time-low, so it wasn’t a huge financial stretch for me to refinance and buy him out.

Other women aren’t so fortunate. Even women who should know better. Just ask Deana Arnett, a certified financial planner with Rosenthal Wealth Management Group in Northern Virginia. This savvy money professional went through her own divorce a few years ago and walked away from the house she shared with her ex. “It was the worst move I ever made,” Arnett says. “It was a very emotional time and all I could think of was ending in a clean way without lawyers and fighting. In hindsight I realize I walked away from a lot of money that was rightfully mine.” Today she advises women to do better for themselves and their kids.

There are lots of reasons the woman — in most cases — should keep the house when she divorces.

Financial reasons include:

  • Chances are, you will have less money when you divorce. If you’re forced to leave the home, you will likely move to smaller, less desirable digs.
  • The home is the biggest financial asset for most couples. You walk away from that, you walk away from the bulk of your wealth — even if he buys you out. Why?
  • Because historically, real estate has been a more stable investment when compared with stocks (recent years being an exception). Between 1978 and 2004, real estate appreciated an average of 8.6 percent per year. While stocks returned more than 13 percent during that time, they also saw more peaks and valleys. True, stocks grew more. HOWEVER, that is just appreciation — not including the wealth-building associated with paying off a mortgage, or the tax advantages.
  • Because your household income will be lower, the tax write offs like mortgage interest and property taxes will be even more valuable post-divorce. Plus, if you were to sell your home, you can likely pocket most or all of the profits tax-free. Only a few investment vehicles provide such a tax perk.
  • If you sell now in this down market, you will likely lose money on your investment. Hang on to it, and history tells us that you will recoup your investment — and then some. Remember investing 101 – buy low, sell high. Selling your home or hand it over to your spouse now is the equivalent of selling low, while refinancing or otherwise taking possession now equals buying low. Be a smart investor.

 

There are plenty of less tangible reasons why it is important for women to keep the home in a split.

The emotional reasons:

  • Your home provides a measure of stability for you and your kids during a tumultuous time.
  • Moving house might mean your children switch schools. See above.
  • I believe there is something enormously comforting and empowering about home ownership — especially for women who tend to be the nurturer of the hearth, the nesters.
  • For me, staying put meant being close to friends and neighbors who provided emotional and practical support during my split. It also meant that I stayed in a large apartment where I had a steady stream of overnight visitors who also lent much-appreciated support — including my mom who stayed with me for most of a year. These were critical elements of my story, which may not have been as positive without the real estate involved.

 

 

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31 thoughts on “Women: Don’t be stupid. Keep the house in the divorce

  1. hi there. i just saw your link over at miss single mama. anyway, i’m really enjoying it so far (my finances are trash).. i just kinda wish it wasn’t just directed at divorced women. i dated my son’s father for 5 years until i found out i was pregnant and he decided to bolt. none of this was an option for me.

    (ps. not a teen mom either. i’m 28 with my five-year-old)

  2. Hi Rachel – thanks for the feedback. As this site gets going I hope there will be plenty of material for all moms — divorced, never married, single by choice, and even married (you know you either a) often feel like a single mom, and/or b) fantasize about being a single mom!). Keep reading, and keep the suggestions coming!

  3. I can see how this would be good advice, but my husband was negatively impacted by giving his ex the home in the divorce. She stopped making the mortgage payments, never refinanced (though the settlement ordered she do so within a year of the divorce)and ended up in a short-sale with his name dragged along for the ride. I think that it’s important to note that husband or wife; if you can’t afford it on your own you shouldn’t keep it.

    1. Syl – those are excellent points. Taking on a home that you can’t afford kills the finances of all parties involved — even if they’re no longer married.

    2. Great point. I agree that there is a lot of sound advice as well but think that there are a lot of women especially that hold on longer that is financially feasable. I hate to see that because it seems counter productive to what we strive for as mothers. It’s important to reassess frequently to make sure you aren’t digging yourself into a deeper hole.

    3. Yes, why would every woman be considered winning when they probably relied on someone else’s income to afford the home in the first place? Haha, this baffles me actually… it happens all the time and the woman is struggling the rest of her life with an “emotional attachment” victory! haha!

  4. I let him keep the house when we divorced. We had zero equity in it, as we bought it with a zero down payment. Plus, the value of the home was going down and the neighborhood was selling for $40,000 less than the purchase price. ANYWAY, I got his retirement money of 90K and he got the house. I think I did better.
    PS….Love your blog.

    1. You’re the exact reason why american men choose not to marry. Vindictive gold digger! Bragging about it too. You didn’t earn the retirement money.

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  5. I agree somewhat, but what happenens when you spend so much time and energy in trying to hold on to the property that it takes away from quality time better spent raisng your children? I understand that owning a home/property can empower single moms and may make sense in securing you financial future. On the other hand, I think that it’s equally improtant to realize when it’s time to move on and to be able to admit when it’s no longer feasable to keep investing. I was in a situation where I had to decide whether to keep our home or walk away. I chose to move knowing that my children would benifit more from spending time with me than seeing me struggle to fix broken bathrooms, mow lawns and solicit volunteers and neighbors to to help me maintain the grounds. I may not have lots of money in the future, but seriously doubt that there are many single moms out there these days that have the financial means to keep a home running on one income. As a single mom I chose to walk away from our home in the interest of living a less stressful existence and having a strong, loving, well rounded relationship with my children.

    1. Spot on Michelle. I watched my mom go emotionally bankrupt trying to keep the house when she got divorced. All we did was rake the yard, cut the grass, clean the gutters, etc. I lost my teenage years as instead of hanging out with my friends, I became a homeowner. No fun whatsoever.

  6. I don’t agree with this. Most wealthy men want the wife to keep the home that she ultimately will have to sell because they want to keep her hands off their precious retirement plan. Never overlook the value of the retirement plan. Your home will not support you when you retire. I plan to take half of both or some similar combination. If he can afford to buy me out and keep the home, great. I may have to downsize, but I will be far better off in 20 years.

  7. This is why men are refusing to marry. They know the odds are stacked against them, and apparently, none of you are to upset by it either.

    Love the articles by past child bearing years women though. Keep telling yourself that the reason you are single is because you are so much smarter than everyone else.

    I can’t wait for teh American government to try and raise bachelor taxes like Japan, because men have wizened up, and understand that marriage is a raw deal. That time is coming, and I can’t wait to see what happens to women like you.

    I will see you on the street, and laugh.

  8. After being in relationship with my husband for nine years,he broke up with me, I did everything possible to bring him back but all was in vain, I wanted him back so much because of the love I have for him, I begged him with everything, I made promises but he refused. I explained my problem to someone online and she suggested that I should rather contact a spell caster that could help me cast a spell to bring him back but I am the type that never believed in spell, I had no choice than to try it, I mailed the spell caster, and he told me there was no problem that everything will be okay before three days, that my ex will return to me before three days, he cast the spell and surprisingly in the second day, it was around 4pm. My ex called me, I was so surprised, I answered the call and all he said was that he was so sorry for everything that happened, that he wanted me to return to him, that he loves me so much. I was so happy and went to him, that was how we started living together happily again. Since then, I have made promise that anybody I know that have a relationship problem, I would be of help to such person by referring him or her to the only real and powerful spell caster who helped me with my own problem and who is different from all the fake ones out there. Anybody could need the help of the spell caster, his email is (LAVENDERLOVESPELL@YAHOO.COM } tel.+2347053977842) you can email him if you need his assistance in your relationship or anything.

  9. I am recently separated from my husband of only 4 yrs. but we have been together for a lot longer, & have been best friends for almost 26 yrs. He told me I had to the home & He was staying (keeping it). my finances while married were to a supplement to his paycheck. ( I made just to cover the mortgage) I could have made more buy picking up more shift that were offered to me, but didn’t because we wanted time to spend together. We have no children together. He has 3 daughters (he don’t have custody of) in the area & wants to keep the house. When I married him, I moved my whole life down to where the house is. I don’t want to walk away from the house. I have figured out ways to meet the financial aspect of keeping it, buy getting a room mate, and working more hours. I just don’t know how to go about it, (making the judge or whoever see my point). can you help me…

  10. Wow….so materialistic and gold digger like. Such a blanket statement that the woman *deserves* to keep the house. What if she never worked a day to pay the mortgage? She should keep the house because she cared for it by cleaning?? Would it be different if it was only rented?? Nope. So…why does a woman become entitled to keep a house simply because she *may* have a disadvantage financially? That’s even more reason to just sell the fregging house in a divorce. Terrible advice.

  11. Why doesn’t anyone ask the question of whose fault the divorce was? That should have an influence on the property division too.

  12. I don’t understand why the husband deserves to lose all the time. Its very scary to read some of these comments where the general mentality is “you deserve it,take him for everything he is worth.” I am currently going through a divorce. My wife told me she isn’t in love with me, doesn’t want to be married, and wants to go out and find what makes her happy. Ive done everything to buy our house and support our family yet I deserve to lose it all because someone had a change of heart? I have no family that house is the only place I have to live. My credit is to bad now to buy another and I couldn’t afford a house at the current market value after I pay child support.there is practically no equity in the home, we would both only have a pocket full of change if we sold. Why do I deserve to be completely ruined because my partner no longer feels the same way toward me? Because I am the evil nasty man in the picture?I say if you want out and to start a new life,that includes a new place. But please dont strip me of everything ive built and worked so hard for and leave me homeless broke and left to start my life over because “you.deserve.it”. I want her to find happiness, but the cost of that is me,the.husband to completely lose? My home,my daughter? My life? Because you feel entitled to a “new life starter kit”. Complete with a furnished home and a car.

  13. Just saw this and had to comment. Our society is crazy and lopsided. Yes in the past the woman had less rights… Now its so lopsided marriage is just a way to punish men for marrying women. I am in an abusiuve relationship where they kids have been negatively impacted by a dangerous woman. I had a co-worker that was physically attacked by a drunk wife and when his kids called the police to get her off they arrested him because domestic violence is “always the mans fault.” Actually quote he was told. For a man to get custody of the kids the wife has to basically walk into the court room with a needle dangling from her arm. Also why do we justify legal robbery? Can a man sue a woman for alimony and get have her stuff? I have a female friend that makes 1 million a year and went through several divorces – I would love to really know how they came out. If you make so many laws giving so much benefit to one group over another – how long to you just admit we are not equal and women are weaker and inferior (I do NOT believe that just making a point).

    1. I 100% percent this POV — though of course every story has three sides. Law enforcement and courts re: divorce, alimony, child support, domestic violence can be very antiquated and favor women. I have written a lot about how alimony should be abolished — both genders not have amble opportunity to support themselves. Alimony only infantizes people — usually women, who of course are more likely to be recipients — and cases more animosity between co-parents.

  14. As a man once I get past this relationship I plan to never marry again and advise my children the same. At least without a prenuptial and even then they can be thrown out of court and depends on the state you live in.

    As far as the money thing why is a woman who met me AFTER all my sacrifice and pain in making my career entitled to half my money and alimony. I can live with child support but I have NO control over how that money is spent and doubt thy will go to the kids. As a result I am planning to find a way to cover their college fund on my own. My x is completely unreliable as well as unstable. When I went to my marriage counselor pretty soon the advice from her was that I might have to leave this situation that it was kind of hopeless, Apparenlty I married a borderline personality – feels like they are a lot more common than I thought….. I am actually a very kind man and took care of my family. I have had many opportunities to stray and chose to be faithful. The joke here is I had been a scumbag we would have broke up earlier and I would have suffered less in the divorce. Nice guys do finish last. Than you ladies…

  15. Horrible, scheming women…

    It’s obvious now there is no actual point in getting married. But, guys – there is a way to get these nasty little predators back at their own game…

    An asset protection trust will secure your assets, and hide them from the divorce courts. If you get the right one (think of remote desert islands, hint hint), she will not be able to take anything away from you as it will be held and protected by the trust.

    In that case, you could go into a marriage, she won’t bother to sign a prenup by default – they never do; SHE WILL BE LIABLE, and NOT YOU. Therefore if SHE has a business, property or house – you will be able to TAKE THOSE FROM HER. Because, even though you may not have added to them at all, they are still rightfully yours.

    “In hindsight I realize I walked away from a lot of money that was rightfully mine.”

    >>rightfully
    >>WTF – Lazy Scrounging Bitch!

  16. Wow I can not believe women could be so evil. I can not comprehend how can you women live with yourselves knowing you are basically stealing what (in most cases) belongs to men who were the ones busting their nuts paying for their own personal retirement and their damn house. I just hope that your very own sons meet and marry women like yourselves and take your sons to the cleaners themselves and take everything your sons worked so hard for. I hope your own sons get fimancially raped by women like yourselves and that you get to see your little boys grow up, getting married and then divorced, penniless, homeless and ruined in every aspect of their by selfish, greedy, malicious women exactly like yourselves and I hope you all enjoy your own sons missery, thats if they dont kill themselves after divorcing their woman.

    I hope my son never get married ever!!! Damn unjust laws and damn opportunist modern feminist women with no ethics, no morals, no values, no consience. No man should ever marry a women. They should work on their own and EARN the only thing thats trully rightfully theirs, their own paycheck!!!

    My wife of almost 20 years and I have 3 kids. I worked very hard since a teenager and bought my wife(i cringe everytime I call her that) a house. After a few years my dad offered me to trade me his bigger nicer house for mine since he was living by himself and wanted me to have his house and did so before he passed away 3 years ago. Now my wife(cringe) cheated on me with an ex hs boyfriend and now she will probably get rewarded for being a cheating unfaithful slut by getting my house(which I bought with my own hard earned money and then traded by my father), my pension, alimony, child suppport, my money. That is not justice. Thats financial rape for men. Women are evil. Dont marry guys. Dont do it. Is not worth it.

    Like someone commented earlier here before, that the wife lived, cleaned or occupied the house does not makes it unmorally arrogantly “rightfully hers”. Particularly when like in my case and in many other cases the women did not invest anything on it. She wouldve done the same if it was a rented house while enjoying the benefits of living in it!!! The majority are nothing but gold digger sluts

  17. There are several things to consider when deciding whether to keep a home in a divorce. If you cannot afford the home, it could mean financial ruin later. If keeping the home means giving up your retirement, which will provide future income (the home will not), it may not make sense. Each situation is different. I’ve read through some of the other comments and see other situations when it was not the right decision to keep the home for some. I see you sometimes agree with those comments. But the title of your article is off-putting. It assumes a woman should always keep the home and she is stupid if she does not, no matter what. I almost didn’t even read this post because of the title. And I assumed you were uneducated about this topic by making the statement in your title. Just my opinion, but I really hate the title. I think you could have done better.

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