Getting out of a marriage is hard, but getting out of a mortgage (and thus the marital home) can be even harder. After years of co-signed loans and intertwined finances, separating yourselves can take a lot of patience.
The first thing to do? Keep up with your bills.
With so much else to worry about, it’s easy for monthly mortgage payments to fall through the cracks, especially if you don’t plan on staying in the house anyway. But if you plan to buy again after the divorce, it’s important to keep your credit score clean, and missing payments while your name is still on the mortgage isn’t going to help.
Of course, that means more than just paying your mortgage. Any late bills can hurt you, too. So make sure you have an agreement in place about who pays what.
Next, if you and your spouse can have a civil conversation about the house, it’s best to decide very early on what you’ll be doing with it. Of course, you could both stay in the house, at least until it sells and you can split the equity appropriately. This may be the simplest route, but it’s often impractical for obvious reasons.
The other alternative is for one spouse to keep the house. This isn’t a decision to make lightly, though. The most important factor? Whether or not one of you can afford the house on your own. In order to remove one spouse from the mortgage, you actually need to refinance, or replace your existing loan with a new one.
That means that the spouse keeping the house will need to be able to qualify on his or her own–and then keep up with the payments, with or without alimony.