Divorce and Your Home

Divorce and Your Home

Divorce and your home:

Understandably, divorce is a very emotional subject because your home is where you nurture and provide for those you love most. And your home is the place where everyone feels secure and can be themselves, shutting out the stressful world.  Given your circumstances, it may feel like your divorce is putting this safe haven at risk. As difficult as the task may be, separating emotional considerations from financial decisions is a necessary step. From an immediate, practical standpoint, treat this decision as if it were a business matter, not a personal matter.

Don't let your emotions influence or in any way determine your real estate decisions.  With so much at stake, it is time to evaluate every aspect of the impending changes that pertain to divorce and your home.  Ultimately, it is your level of preparation and knowledge of this subject, not emotions, will help you make the best decisions. 

The title to your home is a key factor if you should divorce:

♦ Is this a family home?
♦ Is your home a marital asset?  Often the house is considered a marital asset even if your name is not on the title, unless it was inherited. Consideration will be made regarding the claim of the home's value if it was purchased while your were married or before the marriage, but this must be evaluated according to state laws and only requires a split of assets, not necessarily a fifty/fifty division
♦ Down payment sources, time of ownership, history of usage
♦ Payment capabilities
♦ Health Issues

Fifteen questions you should answer before divorcing your home 

1.)  Can you really afford the house after divorce?

2.)  Will your standard of living be strained to a point where you won't enjoy life?

3.) If you want it, you'll have to buy him/her out by refinancing.  Do you have a basic idea of the percentage of the equity you will most likely have to pay?  This depends on the above circumstances. Your lawyer can give you a ballpark estimate.

4.)  Do you know the home's current market value and do you have equity in the home?

5.)  Are the taxes, liens, utilities and home maintenance within your budget?

6.) Will your income Alone qualify you to refinance the home?

7.) How will this affect your children? Will it provide the safe, nurturing atmosphere they need

8.) Will the house sell and at what price?  Consider your equity, the speed of a sale, its location and condition. Options for selling your Toledo Area home.

9.) Have you considered delaying the sale until your children are eighteen?  Consult a lawyer and be sure all legal avenues are documented.

10.)  Is the house the right size and in the location you really want, or will changes cost more in the long run?

11.)  Have you considered having a parent move in?  This can help financially and emotionally.

12.) Are there other properties or assets you can use in order to keep the home without financial hardship?

13.) Are you truly making a decision based on facts and figures and not on emotions?

14.) If you can afford a different home that offers you more, then divorce the house.  Know and get Options for selling your home.

15.) Can you answer all these questions?  If so, you are well enough informed to make sound decisions about your home during divorce.

Tax planning for a home in the event of a divorce:


   A House Divided

For many people, the federal home sale gain exclusion is the single most valuable tax break available. But if you're getting divorced and selling a home, you may need to plan ahead to take advantage of the tax break. We'll explain why, but first, here's a little background information.


Gain exclusion basics

If you're unmarried, you can potentially sell a principal residence for a profit of up to $250,000 without owing any federal tax to the U.S. Treasury. If you're married and file jointly for the year of sale, you can potentially exclude up to $500,000 of gain. To qualify, you generally must pass both of the following tests:

1.  You must have owned the property for at least two years during the five-year period ending on the sale date (referred to as the ownership test).

2. You must have used the property as a principal residence for at least two years during the same five-year period (referred to as the use test).




Q. If I take the exclusion of capital gain tax on the sale of my home this year, can I also take the exclusion again if I sell another home in the future? 

A. Yes. With the exception of the two-year waiting period, there is no limit on the number of times you can exclude the gain on the sale of a principal residence, as long as you meet the ownership and use tests.















To be eligible for the $500,000 joint-filer exclusion, at least one spouse must pass the ownership test and both spouses must pass the use test.

If you excluded a gain from an earlier principal residence sale under these rules, you generally must wait at least two years before taking advantage of the tax break again. The $500,000 joint filer exclusion is only available when both spouses have not claimed an exclusion for an earlier sale within two years of the sale date in question.

Of course, home sales often occur in divorce situations and the cash from this tax break can come in handy.

Selling before a divorce is final

Here's how the preceding qualification rules affect homeowners getting a divorce and selling a home. Let's say a soon-to-be-divorced couple sells their principal residence. Assume they are still legally married as of the end of the year of sale because their divorce is not yet final. In this scenario, the splitting couple can shelter up to $500,000 of home sale profit in two different ways:

First, the couple could file a joint return for the year of sale. Provided they meet the basic home sale gain exclusion timing requirements, they can claim the maximum $500,000 exclusion on their joint return.

Alternatively, the couple could file separate returns for the year of sale, using married filing separate status. Assuming the home is owned jointly as community property, each spouse can then exclude up to $250,000 of worth of gain on his or her separate return. To qualify for two separate $250,000 exclusions, the spouses must each meet the ownership test for their shares of the property and meet the use test. In most cases, the preceding favorable rules allow a divorcing couple to convert their home equity into federal-income-tax-free cash. The parties can generally divide up that cash any way they choose without any further federal tax consequences and go their separate ways.

Selling in the Year of Divorce or Later

When a couple is divorced as of the end of the year their principal residence is sold, the tax law considers them divorced for the entire year. Therefore, they are unable to file jointly for the year of sale. Of course, the same is true when the sale occurs after the year of divorce.

Let's say you wind up with sole ownership of the residence, which was formerly owned by your ex-spouse. In this case, you are allowed to count your former spouse's period of ownership for purposes of passing the two-out-of-five-years ownership test when you eventually sell the property. Your maximum gain exclusion will be $250,000, because you are now single. However, if you remarry and live in the home with a new spouse for at least two years before selling, you can qualify for the larger $500,000 joint return exclusion.

Now let's say you end up owning some percentage of the home, while your ex-spouse owns the rest. When the home is later sold, both you and your ex-spouse can exclude $250,000 of your respective shares of the gain, provided that you each meet the ownership and use tests.

When a home is sold soon after a divorce, both ex-spouses typically qualify for separate $250,000 exclusions. However, when the property remains unsold for some time, the ex-spouse who no longer resides there will eventually fail the two-out-of-five-year use test and become ineligible for the gain exclusion privilege - unless certain steps are taken. 

When a "nonresident ex-spouse" continues to own a home after a divorce

In many cases, the ex-spouses continue to co-own a former marital home for a long period after the divorce. Obviously, however, only one ex-spouse continues to live in the home. The problem: After three years of being out of the house, the "nonresident ex-spouse" will fail the two-out-of-five-year use test. That means when the home is finally sold, that person's share of the gain will be fully taxable. However, this undesirable outcome can be easily prevented with some advance planning.

Specifically, the divorce papers should stipulate that, as a condition of the divorce agreement, one ex-spouse is allowed to continue occupying the home for an agreed-upon period of time (for example, until the kids reach a certain age). At that point, the home can either be put up for sale with the proceeds split according to the divorce property settlement, or one spouse can buy out the others share for its current fair market value.

This arrangement allows the nonresident ex-spouse to receive "credit" for the other party's continued use of the property as a principal residence. So when the home is finally sold, the nonresident ex-spouse still passes the use test and thereby qualifies for the $250,000 gain exclusion privilege.

The same strategy works if you are the nonresident ex-spouse and wind up with complete ownership of the home, while your ex-spouse continues to live there. Making your ex-spouse's continued residence in the home a condition of the divorce agreement ensures that you (the nonresident ex-spouse) will qualify for the $250,000 gain exclusion when the home is eventually sold.

Conclusion: Getting divorced involves enough financial stress without incurring needless tax liabilities. With proper planning, you can preserve your right to take advantage of the tax-saving home sale gain exclusion privilege.


















Resources of Information Concerning Divorce

Domestic Violence Hotline                    Cope with Divorce                    Co-parenting Effectively- Toledo Located

Lucas County Domestic Relations         Help Guide to Divorce

Wood County Domestic Relatiions        Reasonable Parenting Time Guide      Divorce Glossary

Why Joint Custody

Co-Parenting through Divorce

Parenting is forever and your children must come first during a divorce.  During the emotional stages of denial, shock, roller coaster, bargaining, letting go and acceptance, the children will be concerned.  Talk to your child about what changes will occur and be clear that it is never their fault and both parents will continue to care for and love them.  Two happy homes should be the focus of both parents.  Be willing to address their need to see the other parent and letting the children know their new schedule helps eliminate the fear because they see how both parents are still in their lives forever.  Always respect the other while in the presents of the child. Being flexible with the schedule will be necessary for sporting events, school activities, friends party invite and special family occasions.  

Talk to your child about their feelings, troubles and fears.  Listen to your child's problems concerning the other parent but encourage them to work them out with the other parent, in most cases. Be clear you may divorce the house, him or her but will always be their for them.  Co-Parenting works best when both parents respect each other and put the child's welfare first.  Keep a schedule in the open so both parents and the children can follow or make necessary changes. Co-parenting through your divorce in a positive way will help the children make that adjustment more smoothly. Two happy homes can have different parenting styles, as long as both provide a safe, loving place for the children. 

Divorce Survival Help

See this average time schedule to know the visitation baseline that may be recommended.  Keeping everything straight during a divorce and a real estate transaction can be challenging.  Over 41 % of marriages end in divorce and concerns about the children, home and yourself can overwhelm anyone. 

For legal help in your divorce you will need a lawyer. If you are uncertain of your financial abilities concerning your home, you may consider financial counseling , talk to your accountant or see HUD for free housing counseling.
Family and children's counseling can help with emotional issues as well as your church, family & friends or local social services.  

A well known cause of stress is not feeling in control. Don't let what you can not do interfere with what you can do.  What you can do now is surround yourself with an experienced team that can help you feel some level of control. Exercise and fitness is a proven way to relieve stress.  

Learn how to Start a Neighborhood Block Watch Program - Helps connect the neighborhood and provide extra eyes,
especially important to help you feel safe.

 ♦ ♦  Dealing with The Home ♦ ♦

Reduce stress by having a realtor experienced with the many difficulties that will occur during your divorce.  Be clear about your finances by knowing how to calculate your DTI ration.  Hire a good realtor who can show you all the options: staying, divorce the home or buying a new home.  During this difficult time, it will be critical that you work with a realtor that knows, understands and is prepared to handle the extra challenges your situation will bring. 

All realtor costs are about the same. This is the only business where you can hire a top agent for the same price.  A quick sale or fast purchase can only happen with maximum exposure of the property, focused resources, experience, and a clear understanding of your needs during this difficult time. Knowledgeable guidance can help separate your housing concerns, keeping them in perspective so you can focus on your family.

Choosing a team to help you through the circumstances of a divorce and your home means you're not alone.  I understand the stress you're dealing with. I know the market and have the resources, the housing market exposure and the extra help needed to eliminate your real estate concerns.  I have a full team working with me ready to work in your corner

Real Estate Advice: Victoria Luhring

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Divorce and Your Home Blog

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Victoria's Luxury Home Team
The Danberry Co. Realtors
3555 Briarfield
Maumee OH 43537
Cell : 419-460-5587