Should You Share the Family Home Post-Divorce?

If you have children, ending your marriage can be particularly stressful. Not only are you trying to untangle your life from your spouse, but you must also take care to protect your children from the emotional and financial impacts of your split. 

Some couples have tried to shield their children from divorce by “birdnesting” or “nesting.” This is the practice of sharing the family home, allowing the children to stay in one place. Instead of forcing the child to move back and forth between parental residences, the parents move between the family home and another residence according to their timeshare schedule. 

While this may be easier on your offspring, it could lead to other problems. Keep reading to learn why co-owning a house after your marriage ends may be a bad idea.

Potential Complications of Co-Owning Property After Divorce

The purpose of nesting is to reduce the stress your children face. Many parents find that moving back and forth puts more pressure on themselves, making them less able to treat their children with compassion. Furthermore, sharing a space with an ex-partner can keep tensions high in the emotional aftermath of a divorce. If you and your co-parent are less than amicable, nesting may actually make the situation more stressful for your kids.

Even if nesting is not your intention, co-owning a home with an ex-spouse can be difficult. You will both be considered responsible for the property, leading to:

  • Continued financial entanglements. One of the primary purposes of the marital dissolution process is to divide your joint assets fairly. This allows you to become financially independent of each other. However, if you share ownership of a house, you will still have a significant entanglement. If your ex-spouse fails to make mortgage or tax payments, you will be responsible for the total amount as well as any fines or late fees. This could also impact your credit score, making it more challenging to manage the rest of your finances.
  • Potential for conflict. Outside of financial considerations, joint real estate ownership can lead to significant conflict. You will be obligated to work together to handle issues like repairs, improvements, and changes to the property. If you cannot negotiate these issues, you may find yourselves in civil court years after your divorce to re-litigate ownership of the property. 

Alternatives to Joint Property Ownership in Florida

Joint ownership is far from the only solution to property division in a divorce. In fact, Florida law prefers that divorcing couples pursue other options specifically to prevent the types of disputes mentioned above. Instead, you may choose to pursue these alternatives:

Request Full Ownership of the House

The simplest solution is sometimes the best. Florida is an equitable distribution state, so marital property does not need to be divided equally. If your spouse is not attached to the home, you may be able to receive full ownership of the house simply by asking for it. 

You can also request full ownership while in court. Suppose you have children and are pursuing primary parent status. In that case, Florida judges can exercise their discretion to award you the family home in its entirety to minimize upheaval for your children. 

Buy Out Your Spouse

If your spouse wants to retain their share of the property’s value, you can also suggest a trade. For example, you could offer your spouse full ownership of a retirement account, vehicle, or other assets in exchange for the home. You may also use marital funds to buy out your spouse’s share in the property. Your spouse will receive assets they prefer, and you will retain the home you love. 

Consider Selling the Property

If negotiations do not succeed or neither of you wants full responsibility for the property, you may choose to sell it. When you elect to sell the marital home, the funds earned from the sale will first be applied to the mortgage. The remaining money can be split between you and your ex-spouse. This process can take time, but it is the most efficient way to ensure you both receive a fair portion of the home’s value.

Collaborate on Fair Property Division with Bergman Family Law

Whether or not you have children, dividing real estate in a divorce is rarely easy. You can simplify the process by working with the expert divorce attorney at Bergman Family Law. Reach out today to schedule your consultation and discuss your situation.