Should you keep the house in divorce? What to do if you want the house

single mom buy home

When I got divorced I kept the house. I had a lot going for me: my ex moved out, unannounced (which left me legally entitled to it), I had a job and good credit. 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. I wanted to stay, I wanted to keep the house in my name, and so when we divorced I refinanced it in a cash-out refinance, gave him a chunk of cash and called it a day.

This was the right decision for me.

But this isn't true for all women. 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 pros and cons to keeping the house in the divorce. Which is right for you?

First, understand what you are entitled to in your divorce when it comes to dividing property.

Reasons to keep the house in your divorce:

  • You can afford it easily on your own. This means that after any refinance, buy-out, you can easily afford monthly mortgage payments, taxes, insurance and upkeep on your own income. If you require alimony or child support to stay in the address, that is too risky.
    You can create a single-mom budget easily on Tiller, an easy-to-use budgeting app.
  • The home is the biggest financial asset for most couples. You walk away from that, you may lose a lot of assets — even if he buys you out. Why?
  • 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 is very likely to be lower post-divorce in the short-term, 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.
  • The emotional reasons to keep the house include providing a measure of stability for you and your kids during a tumultuous time. This includes staying in the same schools and close to friends and neighbors who provided emotional and practical support.

However, there are lots of very good reasons to let your marital home go — whether to your ex, or to sell it on the market.One of the biggest mistakes I have seen in my work, as well as have heard from divorce attorneys, is women's insistence on keeping the marital home in divorce — to her detriment.

Reasons NOT to keep the house in divorce:

  • You can't afford it. Accepting that your income is now lower after divorce, and therefore you lifestyle must change, is often very difficult — especially for the lesser-earning spouse, who unfortunately is usually the woman. Going into debt, facing losing that very home you so desperately want to hang on to, and the emotional turmoil that financial stress induces is just bad news. Don't.
  • Selling helps you move on. Houses are emotional things. That house likely represented a family and life that you wanted very much to succeed — but things turned out differently. Nothing like new real estate (and furnishings!) to relaunch your new life, and put your old one behind you. The same goes for when you sell an engagement ring or some other item that you shared.
  • A new home is empowering! Whether you are purchasing a new house or renting a place on your own, moms tell me that doing this solo is one of the most empowering things they've ever done.
  • It (might) teach your kids financial responsibility financial. Because your home is likely your biggest financial asset, you should treat it with as little emotion as possible. Compromising your finances, emotional well-being and good sense for the sake of keeping a house you really like is not a good financial example for your kids.
  • Selling (might) teach them emotional resistance. Sometimes life sucks giant, hairy donkey balls. It just does. Divorce is usually like that. But showing a measure of grace, moving on, and making wise decisions for your whole family in the face of rotten times is one of the greatest gifts you can give your kids.
 

How to keep the house in a divorce using a cash-out refinance

When I got divorced 10 years ago, one of the biggest sources of stress — and confusion — was where I would live, and what my ex and I would do with our home. When he moved out, I stayed in the New York City apartment we’d bought together a few years before. There was a lot of equity in it, I felt like it was a good investment, I loved the home, neighborhood and building, and I didn’t want to move.

I contacted a few mortgage brokers to explore what my options were. Based on my income, the home value, terms of my divorce (which, in my case was that we split any equity in the home), a cash-out refinance was my best option. Since then, I have been able to finalize my divorce in a fair way, now own my home 100 percent in my name, and have a payment I can easily afford — plus a nice tax deduction every year.

What is a cash-out refinance?

A cash-out refinance means that you apply for and receive a new mortgage for more than you owe. Typically, you can cash-out up to 85 percent of your home’s value. This was a great option for me, because I owed my ex a lot of money — which I did not have at the time — there was enough equity in the home, interest rates were lower than when we bought the home, and my income was enough so that I could comfortably afford the new payments.

Here is an example:

Let’s say there is $200,000 left on your mortgage, and your home is now worth $350,000. With a cash-out refinance, you might refinance up to 85 percent of your home’s value ($297,500) and take part of the $97,500 difference back in cash to spend however you like — including paying your ex his share of the divorce settlement.

Pros of a cash-out refinance during a divorce:

  • Easy way to access cash during a time when you may not have a lot of it
  • Interest rates on mortgages tend to be lower than if you were to do a home equity line of credit, home equity loan, personal loan, or credit card advance.
  • Interest rates on your first mortgage are usually tax-deductible
  • You can keep your home and don’t have to move, which can be important at a time when everything in your and your kids’ lives is in flux.
  • The mortgage is now in your name only, removing your ex from the debt and deed — which can feel really powerful for you, and be an important step in separating from your marriage and starting your life anew.

Cons of a cash-out refinance during divorce:

  • Compared with a home-equity line of credit or home equity loan, closing costs can be higher
  • Signing a new mortgage may extend the period for which you pay for the home — even if monthly payments are the same or lower (this happened to me).
  • Signing a new mortgage may increase the overall sum you will pay for the property if interest rates have increased since you first financed it.
  • If the refinance means you end up with less than 20 percent equity in your property, you may need to add PMI, or private mortgage insurance, onto your loan.

How to qualify for a cash-out refinance in your divorce

The qualifications for a cash-out refinance mortgage are the same as a new mortgage, in most cases. Because you are now divorced and seeking to own the home in your name only, the qualifications are for you as a single person (not as a couple):

Who can qualify for a cash-out refinance?

Since a cash-out refinance is essentially the same as taking out a new mortgage, requirements for qualifying are similar. Homeowners who own their homes and meet the following criteria may qualify:

  • Good or excellent credit (FICO score of 670+)
  • Significant home equity — at least 20 percent of the home’s value
  • Ability to repay the loan
  • A debt-to-income ratio — including the new mortgage payment — approved by the lender. Check mortgage rates and offers at LendingTree.

Other notes about cash-out refinance in divorce:

During divorce, finances are often very tight — where there was once one household with two income or one income plus a full-time person caring for the home and kids — there are now two households, two sets of insurance premiums, and increased need for child care — not to mention legal fees.

Obtaining a new mortgage is a big commitment. Even though you may be emotionally tied to your current home, staying put is not always the best answer. Even if your mortgage payment stays the same after the refinance, you may not be able to afford it without stress and scramble every month. Also, while the thought of leaving your home may feel traumatic today, you may feel differently in months and years to come. In fact, you may want to break free from old memories and expectations that are attached to the home.

Really want to sell your house after your divorce?

Of course, you may want to sell your house, and that could very well be the best decision. Reasons include:

  • You can't afford the house on your income alone
  • You want to downsize into something less expensive 
  • You want to downsize into a condo / town-house / smaller digs because it is easier 
  • You're relocating for a job
  • You're relocating for a boyfriend
  • You're relocating to be closer to friends / family 
  • You want a fresh start in a new place of your own
  • You just want to sell the damn house, OK?

Really, you don't have to explain yourself to anyone! 

Typically, when you sell a home and work with a broker, that costs you 5% of the sales price. Thanks to really easy-to-use technology at HomeBay, you can pay just a small fraction of that in a flat fee based — typically around 1% of the final sales price.

Here is how HomeBay works:

  1.  Go to HomeBay.com. Enter your address, property type, and when you want your listing to go live. HomeBay generates a custom to-do list based on your goals and property. These include prepping your home, and determining an asking price. 
  2. Set up the listing. HomeBay will send a professional photographer to shoot the photos, provide a yard sign, and help you set your asking price.
  3. Go live. HomeBay distributes your listing to the Multiple Listing Service (MLS), as well as Zillow, Redfin, Trulia, and Realtor.com.
  4. Show your house. Book tours, agent and buyer showings and open houses through HomeBay, which coordinates with you to confirm dates.
  5. Review offers. HomeBay flags unusual interactions to help you avoid difficult seller situations. Once you accept an offer through the platform, your home is placed on “Pending” status.
  6. HomeBay manages all the closing paperwork for you. You attend the closing, sign the paperwork. Done! 

Sample savings using HomeBay to sell your house:

Home priceWith traditional agent*With HomeBay
(estimate)
$200,000$10,000$2,000
$300,000$15,000$3,000
$500,000$25,000$4,000

*Agent fees have averaged 5% of home sale price in recent years, according to Bankrate.

Sell your house with HomeBay now >>

About Emma Johnson

Emma Johnson is a veteran money journalist, noted blogger, bestselling author and an host of the award-winning podcast, Like a Mother with Emma Johnson. A former Associated Press Financial Wire reporter and MSN Money columnist, Emma has written for the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Forbes, Glamour, Oprah.com, U.S. News, Parenting, USA Today and others. Her #1 bestseller, The Kickass Single Mom (Penguin), was named to the New York Post's ‘Must Read” list.Emma regularly comments on issues of modern families, gender equality, divorce, sex and motherhood for outlets like CNN, Headline News, New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Fox & Friends, CNBC, NPR, TIME, MONEY, O, The Oprah Magazine and The Doctors. She was named Parents magazine’s “Best of the Web,” “Top 15 Personal Finance Podcasts” by U.S. News, and a “Most Eligible New Yorker” by New York Observer.A popular speaker, Emma presented at the United Nations Summit for Gender Equality. Read more about Emma here.

98 Comments

  1. Hopeful on May 4, 2016 at 11:38 pm

    Thank you for your speedy reply, Emma. I thought a lot about the situation today since I had a couple of ‘back and forths’ between our lawyers. My ex was an abuser emotionally and physically, and I’m dealing with a narcissist. It is clear that he will continue to try and manipulate me any way he can, and that will include withholding child support and whatever else he can. So I really must put myself in a position where I can be self-sufficient and safe. I only feel safe right now because I have a temporary order of protection. Your simple reply combined with my interactions today made me arrive at the conclusion that I can make a new life in a new home that I can afford on my own, find another pretty decent school district (it’s also about what you as a parent invest in your child, right?), and I’m pretty outgoing so I will make new friends. Thank you for the food for thought. Now to find a bank that will give me a loan……I’m in NYC. Any banks easier than others?

  2. Hopeful on May 4, 2016 at 3:43 am

    Hello Emma,

    I was married for only 4yrs and trying to settle my divorce. I have full custody of our 3yr old child and reside in the marital home. After reading your article, and listening to friends and advice from my divorce lawyer, I am strongly considering buying out my ex. I’m a foreigner, so my neighborhood and house have become my home, and my neighbors my new family. I can’t tell you how they have been there for me during this tumultuous time. I actually cried tonight thinking of where I will go if I have to leave this house/neighborhood. There is a lot of equity in my home………a 500k mortgage, house worth 1million. House is located in a wealthy neighborhood that doesn’t typically depreciate. Because I supplied the downpayment for the home prior to marriage, my buyout is about 150k (on top of assuming the mortgage). Also, in a top school district. Problem is that I also have student loan debt of around 120k. I have a decent job, making 130k a year (before taxes!). My credit score is average now because of the divorce. I don’t want to rely on the 2500/month in child support since he’s self-employed and I can guarantee that he’s going to screw me around with that. Do you think it’s wise I keep the house? Interested in your opinion.

    • Emma on May 4, 2016 at 2:28 pm

      How easily can you afford the house if you do buy him out?
      And how will you feel about staying in a house you used to share with him?

  3. Ipeleng on April 18, 2016 at 11:19 am

    Just question Emma, i have been married for 8 years and i just recently decided to divorce however i 4 months ago i was approved for a bond and i am worried this divorce might affect it. He is unemployed for almost 5 years now. I have not move in to the house yet because it is currently being build. I have 2 kids and i am worried about them as well. When i signed for the house finance i did it alone because i was worried that his credit record will affect me. I had to say i am single. Please advise how i can go about this situation.

  4. Michael on March 22, 2016 at 12:41 pm

    I the man. I kept the house for two reasons. One, the market was bad 3 years ago and we owed what it was worth. And Two, I wanted stability for my son. This is the only house he knew. He had friends on the neighborhood. I didn’t want to uproot him. He is with me half the time. A little more actually but half as far as nights go. The problem is the house is too big for just us two. I was trying to think what was best for me son. He is 12 now. 9 when we divorced. But at least it is worth more now as the market has recovered.

  5. Alan on February 25, 2016 at 10:30 am

    Greed of the women because the system is so out of date with the times … Just because the women gives birth to s child doesn’t make them the only parent .. But the courts still favour the women and screw the man

  6. It takes two, always. To wed, to unwed. on December 16, 2015 at 11:45 pm

    Hello.
    Another story.
    My husband (ex now) wanted a divorce but instead of stating this, did what some men do: resigned himself to being married without actually being married.
    I asked to go to a Christian couples counselor. For five years. He said no, and I felt guilty for asking. (Simplest way to show our personal dynamic).
    After 5 years of this, I asked for a separation. We separated within the home (separate rooms) and he (privately) consulted some aggressive attorneys. He began to tell me I needed to leave the home, that it would not be financially feasible for me to stay, that he could support the home and I could not, that separation means divorce. He used pie charts and spread sheets to demonstrate his point.

    I think it is important to state that when a wife depends on her husband’s point of view, she often listens to his reasons as though they are fact. Men and women are equally emotion driven. It may show differently, but when the underlying message is, “I will lose if you don’t do x,y.z.” It is emotion driven reasoning. Convincing another to do what you need them to has limited staying power.

    After 15 months, I moved out of our home and secured a rental that would support myself and our child with our agreed intent to jointly care for her through this separation.
    He then promptly sued me for abandonment, went to our church leaders and claimed falsehoods, joined Facebook and friended my family and friends, and sued for sole custody. Along with this our entire savings was “moved” to his account.

    I am writing this to all the women who made every possible mistake in their divorce because they did not realize, or accept, they were getting a divorce.

    I am writing this to all the men who are weighing in from MGTOW or who feel injured and so want to continue the cycle of injury instead of examining their own role in the breakdown of their marriage.

    My former spouse nearly gained full custody because he had secured the means to retain an immensely aggressive and unethical divorce attorney, and I did not think to do this.

    I held on for my life, cancelled the trial in the midst of it, and signed whatever was put in front of me.

    Courts are not hospitable to women or men. Roll the dice and see what you get. Children are sacrificed at the altar of judge’s and hurt spouse’s egos.

    I am renting and have no idea how/when home ownership will ever occur.
    I lost my reputation because of complete lies that he spread.
    I nearly lost access to our child because he sued for it, and I did not think to ask for this.
    Renting in our school district takes 70% of my income.
    If I move outside our district, he could continue to portray me as he wishes, unable to provide, etc while he remains, in our home, stable and financially able because he made this his number one goal, regardless of consequences.

    There is a spiritual moral to this tale.

    He got everything he wanted: the house, a new love interest whom he woos with stolen savings, a custody split that he can’t keep up with but that gives him minimum financial responsibility, and finally, the feeling that he was wronged, that he was left. In holding tightly to this version of the tale, he does not have to examine the injury he is capable of causing.

    I am not blameless. I am half of this couple, now bound forever by our child. I asked for counseling. I asked for a separation. I am the initiator.
    I accept my part. I have spoken my part to him. It is what I can do.

    The spiritual moral: he is as deeply unhappy as he was before. I am barely above the poverty line, and have found peace not because of or in spite of my circumstances, but because I needed to find it.
    Our child, when she needs to weep or break down, does not do so with the one who buys her everything.
    She brings her broken heart to me.

    He is building a new family and is still angry, still searching for the things around him, to profess his worth.

    At the end of the day, it will never come from a house. Or a marriage. When all of us comprehend this to the core of our being, we won’t need to cling to things or people as though they are our only lifeline.

    Everything passes except the one solid security, whatever you want to call That. Every other happiness or grief or sadness passes.

    A house crumbles.

    A spouse leaves.

    I am not at peace because my marriage crumbled. I am finding peace, and joy, because all I had identified as part of my worth were set on fire (financial security, someone I thought was in it for the entire ride, my reputation, my religious and moral standing). Those things are ashes, and I am here and can say: there is nothing to make you more real than to see all you thought was your Self literally decimated.

    It is freeing.

    I hope he finds peace. I am given the gift to see that neither of us had the capability to make or break the other’s joy. We give a lot of credence to Marriage, but in the end, it will crumble under such undue weight. It was never supposed to be our saving grace. Neither was the house. Neither was any of the things we thought would save us.

    Peace.

    • v on January 20, 2016 at 9:59 pm

      Hello It takes two,
      I am so touched by your post because I am going through a separation that seems to be heading toward divorce. I have been married to my soon to be ex-husband for 27 years. i had been in a childhood environment that was quite negative for my self esteem. And to be fair, so was my husband. We came together as fractured people, victims of verbal, mental, and physical abuse. I thought that our love was enough to get us through, but sadly he didn’t think so. I had been a submissive wife, a product of my father’s abusive, controlling ways. I enabled him by meeting all his needs when we were first married. Then we had children, and i admit that i spent a lot of time with them, because i wanted them to have everything that i didn’t get. I was able to work part-time and still maintain the household with a lot of hard work and good time management. Apparently he had lied to me about his sexual addiction from the beginning. At the start of trouble, I asked him to go to counseling. But he is very manipulative, so he got me to quit. As the children grew older, i had a little more time for myself. But to my surprise, I found out that he had multiple internet affairs with women all over the US and one in particular in puerto rico that he had cyber sex with for 2 years. i was devastated and sought counseling. but he refused saying that it didn’t count as an affair since he didn’t physically have it. And called it flirting. The children were still in middle school, so i did not separate at that time. But recently, he had an affair with a coworker and continued to chat with her and text her while i thought we were going through couples and then individual counseling. The course of 5months from the discovery of the affair and to the point where he finally confessed, was hell on earth for me. I could no longer continue so i asked him to leave. I thought that we would separate to cool off , but as soon as he left, he took out 200$ from an atm near his mistress’s house. So i can relate to the countless lies that you have endured, and i feel for you. Please know that you in GOD’s eyes are worthy and loved. All the materialistic things he has can’t change the miserable person that i am sure he feels inside, despite what he presents to others on the outside. My counselor, who happens to be his counselor said to me that he had difficulty with intimacy, and that he really is an unhappy person despite his need to replace that intimacy with his sexual desires. My
      ex is a handsome, charming man on the outside, but deep down he is suffering. I can no longer help him, because my heart has been broken so many times. But with my faith in Jesus, he gives me strength to endure this hardship and i hope that we both are rewarded in heaven for staying true to ourselves and always keeping hope and peace in our hearts.
      Stay strong, and hold tight to that freedom and peace within.
      v

  7. Evelyn Joiner on July 26, 2015 at 6:25 pm

    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.

  8. Jacobs on April 28, 2015 at 5:01 am

    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

    • Carol on February 13, 2016 at 7:55 am

      Please do not perpetuate simplistic, reductionist thinking and negative stereotypes by painting with a broad brush about men, women, marriage, and divorce. There are good, trustworthy, and conscientious individuals out there. Please try to find one, and strive to be the same.

  9. Anonymous Joe on April 5, 2015 at 3:45 am

    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!

  10. Husband too on February 6, 2015 at 3:12 am

    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…

  11. Husband too on February 6, 2015 at 3:02 am

    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).

    • Emma on February 6, 2015 at 1:08 pm

      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.

  12. husband on December 30, 2014 at 1:18 pm

    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.

    • Carol on February 13, 2016 at 7:50 am

      I agree—exactly the point made in my comment.

    • Rogue258 on June 17, 2016 at 3:36 pm

      You know what….it is your fault…you deserve it….
      Infact I say…it’s all the men’s fault….you all wanted to be problem solver….innovators…you all wanted to make life more easy and simpler…so what you did??
      you went ahead and made jobs easy…made then less physical and more cushy…hell you all crib about corporate jobs and bad health…that’ because our jobs are hardly physically demanding….
      Women have advantage over men because they have the elusive gift of giving birth and continuing the human cycle….man had the gift of physical and mental superiority (well at an individual level in our day to day life, in our own little world we may know women stringer and smarter than men and vice versa may be stronger and smarter than a man…but overall, considering 700+ Billion people as a whole men are stronger and smarter than women)…
      Now you see women’s advantage of continuing the life cycle will never be squandered away…but men have squandered their advantage…so they will have to pay the price….

  13. Questions on December 13, 2014 at 8:31 am

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

    • Emma on December 16, 2014 at 3:22 pm

      It always takes two people. 100% of the time.

      • Carol on February 13, 2016 at 7:49 am

        I do not agree with that. If one person “checks out” of the marriage after that person was repeatedly caught in lies involving financial infidelity and refuses to do the work to repair the damage, how does that validate your statement. Your statement that it ALWAYS takes two people 100% of the time is glib and condescending. Each situation is unique. Your reductionist thinking–both that statement and your blanket statement about a woman holding onto a house– is incorrect, ill-informed, and possibly harmful to those who would follow your advice.

        • Emma on February 15, 2016 at 9:32 am

          If one person is unfaithful, the relationship was broken in some way — a relationship that involves two people.

          • Aha on August 16, 2017 at 8:37 am

            No this is not right

            • Aha on August 16, 2017 at 8:41 am

              It takes two to make a relationship work, but one can break it



      • Jennifer on February 21, 2016 at 9:29 am

        You are obviously unaware of what it’s like being married to an alcoholic and an abuser. A person married to a spouse like that can give their all. My husband cheated on me because he wanted a woman he could get drunk with. Sometimes a break down in a marriage IS due to one spouses problems. You are very narrow minded, and all situations are different.

        • Emma on February 21, 2016 at 10:28 am

          There are no addicts without enablers.

          • G on May 11, 2016 at 10:24 pm

            Wow. You are a TERRIBLE person, and one who doesn’t know much at that. You have absolutely no idea what you’re talking about. I can’t believe you are offering advice to women. You should do yourself a favor and delete this site and NEVER EVER give women going through an already traumatic time, “advice.”

            You awful, awful, person.

          • M on July 5, 2016 at 6:20 pm

            Wow your comment is very disgusting.

          • Survivor on February 24, 2017 at 6:12 pm

            Emma, this may be true, but it is certainly not always the spouse.

      • Bob on April 9, 2016 at 1:09 am

        This is a false statement. This is exactly the kind of crap a guilty party peddles to justify their actions. What nonsense! It only takes one person to decide to get a divorce and the other spouse can do nothing if they have made their mind up. One person can definitely purposefully push another away. I know as I am married to a child masquerading as an adult.

      • J on November 17, 2017 at 10:34 pm

        I dont necessarily agree. If the other spouse is abusive and personality disordered,.the breakup of the marriage can be one sided. It’s not the majority of the time, but it does happen.

        • J on November 17, 2017 at 10:39 pm

          Oh adding to this that while a person can be either an enabler or in the case of many people, codependent, once a person begins to love themselves enough and set boundaries, they have done their part in the relationship. If the other does not address their abusive mentality and get help, then the decision to divorce, while made by the former codependent, is based upon the fact that the other person doesnt want to change.

          If a woman is being beaten by her husband, that relationship was not broken up by two people. He broke it. To lay any blame on her at that point is ridiculous. There is no way that relationship SHOULD stay together. She could die.

  14. nunya on October 28, 2014 at 4:08 pm

    People like you scare me.

  15. Noname on September 2, 2014 at 10:51 am

    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.

  16. Sell your House for Cash on August 14, 2014 at 1:45 pm

    Yes, I’m agreed with you. That’s your good luck, have job and good credit and the important thing is have custody of the kids, So then everything will go on rights.

  17. Tracey on July 17, 2014 at 12:16 pm

    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…

  18. stacey bush on May 3, 2014 at 12:19 am

    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.

    • J on July 31, 2014 at 10:57 am

      Jesuschrist is the answer to every marriage, not witchcraft…

  19. El Bastardo on March 7, 2014 at 12:23 am

    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.

    • SayWhaaa on May 24, 2016 at 4:39 am

      Hey Basturd,
      Make sure to post your machismo ideas again, once you’ve “Wizened ” up!
      No doubt we’re all waiting to hear more from your pie hole!

    • Minor Mino Minor on December 16, 2016 at 11:12 pm

      You must be a big hit with the ladies….
      Do you work at a brewery?

  20. monica gorham on December 6, 2013 at 5:48 pm

    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.

    • Emma on December 9, 2013 at 9:26 am

      Thanks Monica – you are correct, you must assess the entire financial package when divorcing, and not all assets are equal. Good points.

      • PHIL HARTZELL on January 13, 2017 at 5:50 pm

        What about a male who is the one that makes about .25 of the household income who gets emotionally and mentally abused by the woman who could care less about a happy and loving household? Should she get the house just because she can afford it?

        • Emma on January 17, 2017 at 10:15 am

          There are no reparations in divorce. You are not entitled to real estate because you feel sad.

  21. michelle cooper on September 30, 2012 at 11:59 pm

    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.

    • Joe Dillon on January 14, 2014 at 5:33 pm

      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.

      • Rogue258 on June 17, 2016 at 3:19 pm

        Got it how difficult it is to maintain a house??
        In divorce women get the children, because they are the one’s who gave them the birth…agreed… no one’s attached more to the child than a mother because she laid the foundation to that child…she bore him/her and therefore has the first right to the kid…but then same goes with the house…the father sees the house in the same light as the mother sees the child..not because the father doesn’t love his kid…but because the father has the same relation ship with the house as the mother has with the kid…the house is the result of fathers sweat and blood…you may say that it is the mother who cleans the house (assuming the father doesn’t help in the house)..but just like in mother kid relationship…the mother has laid the foundation…after that the father is there with the kid…in the same way..the father has laid the foundation for the house and the mother takes care of the house just like how the father take care of the kid…
        In summary,….in father mother kid relationship….write down the dynamics…and then
        in the father mother house relationship…the roles of father and mother get swapped and hte kid replaced by the house… and the dynamics will be the same as earlier…that should ideally be the situation…
        where there are no kids involved…the woman keeping the house is a bitch (assuming that she has no equity in the house…if she has then she should get her fair share)

        • Minor Mino Minor on December 16, 2016 at 11:07 pm

          Ah…what?…

        • PHIL HARTZELL on January 13, 2017 at 5:49 pm

          I dont get this – Becasue we as MALES cannot physcially give birth, we somehow dont have the same connection to our children? This is absurd. There are many women who abuse that bond and dont give a rats ass nearly as much as the man does. That would be like saying adoptive parents cannot love and cherish the child just as much – isnt that the excuse that you use when you remarry anyways ?

  22. Kelly on September 5, 2012 at 11:21 pm

    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.

    • Emma on September 5, 2012 at 11:36 pm

      Thanks Kelly- and yep, sounds like you knew what you were doing. Good on you!

    • Jim on August 16, 2013 at 11:15 pm

      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.

      • Mysti on April 13, 2016 at 9:35 am

        Screw you Jim, it’s called community property and if they had children then she probably damn sure sacrificed plenty so he was able to work and earn the retirement. Of course she earned it. The husband and wife are supposed to be a team unit. For whatever reason that unit was severed and assets and liabilities had to be divided. I’m taking it your probably a)lonely and not married or b)married and your wife is unhappily so. Big tough muff Jimbo spouting off; loser!!!!

      • Dawn on May 22, 2016 at 10:03 am

        Jim,
        I’ve stated home for 6 years with our children, cooking, cleaning, doing the bills, the errands and much much more. When you divorce as im getting ready to go through with 3 children, you need financial comfort. Women deserve some type of community property wheather its retirement money, property etc. This is not gold digging. I could send my husband a bill for cleaning, daycare etc. It would total much more. Remember we make financial sacrifices as well. In my case staying home so my husband could work more. Had I worked it would of been a challenge for our life style with his career taking off. So really think about what your saying when you call women gold diggers.

        • Rogue258 on June 17, 2016 at 3:08 pm

          What is with you people always bringing the “cleaning bill” argument??
          First of all, people charge way more for cleaning…in west you people charge so much for this housework services. Those services are way over priced…How can a cleaning service, which doesn’t require brains of a rocket scientist and brawn of a miner charge so much?
          The reason cleaning services are able to charge so much isn’t because it required any special talent, but because there is just scarcity of people willing to do it…and if there isn’t any scarcity, then you people are stupid to pay so much money for it.
          Cleaning service (and not cleaning for your own family, there is a difference) is a job like pizza delivery or mcdonalds order guy, or a waiter, but bloody gets paid like a wall street trader.

          • Disgusting Creatures on September 20, 2016 at 11:23 am

            To any of you women supporting Kelly’s views, she is the reason men do not want to get married in 2016. (Just let that sink in) Any women who divorces and brags about taking his retirement money deserves cancer, and I do not care if that sounds harsh.

            Just LOL at marriage in 2016

            • Survivor on February 24, 2017 at 6:04 pm

              I recognize you will never see this DG, but for others who may read these comments I must reply to your hateful post.

              My husband moved out while our son was hospitalized for over a week with pneumonia, and 3 months later I was diagnosed with cancer. How dare you. How DARE you wish cancer on anyone. You must be one of the FEW people whose life and family has not been radically altered or even destroyed by this horrible disease. Lucky you.

              Half of my husband’s retirement money wasn’t nearly enough to compensate for 17 years of supporting HIM financially with my own assets while HE built his career. We made a deal. I stayed home (and therefore ceased even accruing money in social security) while he stabilized his demanding career, and used my assets to support this, while in exchange when the kids were older (which oddly enough was right when he decided to leave and find another woman), it would be MY turn to focus on my career. He wouldn’t have that retirement money if not for our MUTUAL agreement on what to save, where to invest it, and when. And even though I got that measly bit of money, I still LOST $100s of thousands of dollars in assets and future earnings, and got saddled with ridiculous debt by trusting him to keep his word to me in our wedding vows. Was I fool? Maybe. But he was the LAST person I ever dreamed would want to leave a marriage.

              I pray that you NEVER have to experience what cancer does to your body or that of someone you love. You would certainly wish then that you had never uttered such hateful words.



        • Minor on December 16, 2016 at 10:39 pm

          Awesome!

          • Minor Mino Minor on December 16, 2016 at 11:05 pm

            Disgusting Creatures is anti-awesome.

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    • Nicole on July 12, 2016 at 6:42 pm

      You took the poor guys retirement money? What kind of person are you?

      • Minor Mino Minor on December 16, 2016 at 10:58 pm

        A smart one.

    • Sara on October 27, 2016 at 6:14 pm

      feel real good getting his hard earned retirement money? Witch.

      • Minor Mino Minor on December 16, 2016 at 11:04 pm

        There is a cult of ignorance in the United States, and there has always been. The strain of anti-intellectualism has been a constant thread winding its way through our political and cultural life, nurtured by the false notion that democracy means that ‘my ignorance is just as good as your knowledge.
        Isaac Asimov

  23. Syl on August 27, 2012 at 8:02 pm

    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.

    • Emma on August 27, 2012 at 8:29 pm

      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.

    • michelle cooper on October 1, 2012 at 12:05 am

      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.

    • Mary on July 31, 2014 at 7:31 pm

      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!

      • Emma on August 1, 2014 at 4:29 pm

        so true, Mary

        • Michel on August 1, 2016 at 5:52 pm

          I need help. My husband is a bipolar, dysfunctional, unstable, verbally abusive disabled veteran. We were both supposed to be getting our credit scores up to purchase a home, he intentionally went ahead and applied and I ended up only being able to sign the deeds. We live in texas. He used his va certificate and va loan. I have given up too much and I dont want to leave this home. Help

          • Mary S on August 14, 2016 at 6:47 pm

            So your disabled husband who is a veteran used his resources he earned by serving to purchase you a home and you feel like you deserve it because he was mean? What planet do you live on. You need a healthy dose of realty. Entitled people like ourself are why divorce is awful to
            Go through. Sounds like you sacrifice sooooo much for you disabled husband who purchased you a home. Idiot.

            • Bucket on September 6, 2016 at 9:16 pm

              “Mary”, hush. You sound like an embittered male MRA. When a couple is married, it behooves them both to not make major purchases without consulting the other. He basically deprived her of any choice about buying a home. Remember, when you are married, you are financially bound. Would you like it if someone signed a contract obligating you without your consent? And in a marriage, both partners are considered to contribute equally. Money is not everything, Stay-at-home spouses contribute housekeeping, child care, cooking, emotional support so you can pursue your career unfettered by trivial concerns, and, for military spouses, dealing with PTSD and long deployments, etc. In the past, these women were dumped without recourse, or it required a long and bitter trial to determine who was “at fault”. And thus we have no-fault divorce. So, if you married a gold-digger and she didn’t pull her weight for 20 years, and you didn’t divorce her before then, the courts are not going to see it your way. If you married a cheater, and didn’t divorce her long ago, tough. Divvying up assets equally is the most fair to the most people.



  24. Emma on August 23, 2012 at 9:43 am

    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!

  25. rachael on August 23, 2012 at 1:25 am

    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)

    • Nicole on July 12, 2016 at 6:38 pm

      So is this blog saying in all circumstances ragarldless who was Careless in the marriage. Shouldn’t the man get something out of the house to since it was likely not always but it was likely it was HIS income alone that allowed the women to even afford said house?

      • Emma on July 13, 2016 at 11:30 am

        yes, assets are typically divided in divorce.

        • Leo on December 9, 2017 at 3:52 pm

          Well it depends. Many couples sign financial agreements about the house, especially when the money comes uniquely or mostly from the husband (or the wife). But when you divorce even with those signed agreements, you may not have the final word.

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