Everyone wants to be able to move on with their life after a divorce. If you want to continue living in your pre-divorce world then getting a divorce is not a good place to start. If you want to continue living in your world as it was during the divorce then you are probably alone in that desire. After having worked with many families who have gone through divorce’s I can tell you that the vast majority of people who go through a divorce do so with the thought that their life after the divorce will be better than their life before the divorce. That the ends justify the means. 

How you move on with your life after divorce is completely up to you. With that said, the circumstances of your case and how successful you were in achieving your main goals and objectives will determine in large part how you can lead a successful life after your divorce comes to an end. Although it may not feel like it at times, if you are currently going through a divorce I can tell you with confidence that your case will come to an end. The results of your case may not be exactly what you want them to be but your case will end. The end may not get there fast enough for you but it will arrive at a certain point. 

From my experience, a typical divorce lasts somewhere between four to six months. Your divorce will take at least 60 days to complete given the 60 days waiting period from the time the divorce petition is filed to win a divorce can be finalized. Or, your divorce could take longer than this four to six month time. If there are extraordinary circumstances involved in your cases such as significant disagreements on core issues like conservatorships or an inability of you and your spouse to coordinate your efforts towards a settlement on any issue in your case. Otherwise, you can expect that after a few months of your divorce the case will come to an end. 

Especially if you have children, one of the main issues that people encounter once their divorce case begins is that their living situation may be quite different than what happened previously. If you are a father reading this blog post then you may have moved out of the family home to relieve tension with your spouse. While you might believe this to have been the right decision for your family it could not have been an easy one. Losing the ability to spend time with your children consistently is difficult and you will probably never fully get used to not being able to see your kids whenever you would like. 

I think as human beings we have an impulse in a desire to stabilize our home environment whenever we feel off-kilter or out of sync in that regard. Having uncertainty about where you are living is never easy. That unease in this regard is highlighted especially when you consider that you will want your children to be able to come to see and stay with you as soon as possible after leaving the family home. So finding a place to live that suits you and your children is of extreme importance to most mothers and fathers after a divorce. 

Deciding what to do with the family home in your divorce

Even before deciding to purchase a home after your divorce, you have to consider what you should do as far as your marital home during the divorce. The thing about your family home is that not only do you have memories in a motion tide up between those four walls at the home but it is also a large and expensive piece of property. I know several people who are emotionally tied to their vehicles for similar reasons. I can imagine that the feeling with a house during the divorce would take on even added meaning and importance. You and your spouse need to have discussions early in often about what to do with your marital home. 

Since the home is so physically and financially large in your community is state what you decide to do at the home will impact how your case proceeds at least from a financial standpoint. There are also child custody and conservatorships issues that are tied to the family home but we can discuss that in a different blog. What I will say is that the spouse who remains in the family home during the divorce tends to have a leg up over the other parent when it comes to staying on as the primary conservator of children. This is not always true but from my experience, it is true more often than not.

There are a few options for you to consider when it comes to the family house in your divorce. The first option is the one most widely utilized would be to simply sell the home and divide any equity in the home between yourself and your spouse. I say that this is the most widely used option because many families simply cannot afford to pay the mortgage on a home with only one income after a divorce. As a result, splitting up the equity after a sale of the home tends to be the most simple from a logistical and financial perspective. You will need to work with your attorney, your spouse, and their attorney on finalizing your agreement as far as who to list the house with, what price the house should be listed at, and any other details associated with the sale of the home. 

I have seen parties to divorce cases come to fairly reasonable conclusions about selling a home and then see their agreement fall apart because not enough attention was paid to the details in the final decree of divorce. You and your attorney should walk through the sale of a house forward you attend mediation in your divorce. Doing so will allow you to anticipate any issues that could arise in the case and prepare for problems that may come up during the listing showing or even closing process. Do not be afraid to ask questions during this time. And make sure to have your questions answered by your attorney before signing off on any mediated settlement agreement or even the final decree of divorce. 

Another point in favor of selling the home after your divorce is that it can help you as far as injecting some much-needed cash into your life during a time where your budget may have been stretched thinner than at any other point in your life as an adult. One of the underappreciated aspects of divorce is that your income is likely going to be cut in half or even cut more than that. As much as you may like the idea of staying in the family home for the benefit of your children or even yourself the fact is that many people encounter significant financial problems after a divorce by choosing to remain in a home that they cannot truly afford. 

On your own time, you should begin to map out of perspective budget for yourself after the divorce comes to an end. Realistically what are you able to take on as far as a house payment? What is your income looking like as far as the trajectory over the next three to five years? He’s staying in a house like the one he lived in with their spouse really in your best interest? Consider these questions independent of what you think your kids would want. Deciding to do things for the benefit of your children primarily can lead to heartache both for you and your children, ironically. 

Next, you could choose to remain in the house and essentially buy out your spouse of their share in the equity to the home. This is, of course, assuming that there is any equity in the house. Given the state of the housing market currently, I would tend to believe that there is equity in the home in that you will not be in a position where you will be selling the house at a loss. As such, you should speak to your attorney about what your options may be as far as paying your spouse their share of the equity. 

For example, if their share in the equity is $50,000 then you may have trouble finding this money. As I mentioned a moment ago most people are not at their best financially in the period immediately preceding the end of their divorce. If you do not have $50,000 of cash on hand that you may consider your options as far as refinancing your home mortgage into your name and taking out $50,000 of cash to pay your spouse, agreeing to an installment program where you pay your spouse the $50,000 over a certain period or even taking out a loan and choosing to repay the lender rather than your spouse. 

No matter if it is you or your spouse who moves out of the house each party has to be familiar with liability on that home in the event of a foreclosure. Documents like deeds of trust to secure assumption and special warranty deeds are frequently drafted by Texas family law attorneys to protect parties to divorce no matter what position they may be in. You should never walk out of a divorce without having considered the importance of these two documents. 

Let’s say that you are the spouse who is going to be bought out during the sale of the home. Even if you were to be paid in full by your spouse for your share of the equity you still would not want to remain on shaky grounds when it comes to future liability on the home if mortgage payments are missed or even if the house were to be foreclosed upon. The other thing to keep in mind is that you cannot guarantee that your spouse will even be able to refinance the mortgage loan into their name only. In that case, would you be stuck with no options? 

The answer to that question is no. You would be able to draft in sign a document known as a deed of trust to secure an assumption that would theoretically protect you in such an instance. The deed of trust is too secure assumption would allow you to foreclose upon the house before a lender can and take over ownership of the note and home if your spouse defaults on the loan. I realize this still may not sound like the greatest arrangement in the world but it is a much better prospect than doing nothing at all. 

The other side of the coin on this topic would be drafting and signing a special warranty deed wherein you did your Community property share of the home to your spouse. This prevents you from being able to waltz into the house in the future and claim ownership. As you can see, the deed of trust is secure assumption protects you and your interests as the spouse who will be leaving the home and the special warranty deed protects the interests of your spouse who will be staying in the home after your divorce. 

What do you need to know about buying a house after your divorce? 

Everybody wants to live their financial life going faster than they ought to. I know I do. When I and my wife have a savings goal or other financial goal we want to reach that goal as quickly as possible. In doing so you can risk putting yourself in a precarious spot financially during a time when you are most vulnerable financially and emotionally after a divorce. 

There is no harm or shame in renting for some time after your divorce. This is especially true if you have moved to a new part of town or even changed jobs in cities. With the hopeful ending of the pandemic, you may find that your need to live in a Metropolitan area shrinks overtime or even goes away completely. In that case, you should cool your heels and think long and hard about whether or not you need to immediately by home. 

The decision to buy a home should be a blessing and not a curse. Given what can go wrong when it comes to purchasing a home I would want to make very sure that you have no debt, have an emergency fund saved the trip for yourself, and hefty down payment. If you can look at your life after the divorce in realizing you have all these pieces in place and are in a position to do so from an employment standpoint and I don’t see anything wrong with buying a house. However, in working with the families that I have been fortunate enough to work with at our law practice I can tell you that most people are not in this position after a divorce. 

However, this is just my advice when it comes to purchasing a home. You can choose to ignore this piece of advice or any other that I give out on this blog. However, I do think that after having worked with many people in divorce cases and having seen people suffer the consequences of bad financial decisions that this is a basic piece of advice that could be utilized by you and your family. Having a manageable mortgage payment, easy drive to and from your ex-spouses home to pick up and drop off kids near your support system are all advantages for you to look for as well. 

The other thing to ask yourself is if buying a house is the right decision for you and your family or is simply an emotional outlet for you to be able to avoid confronting issues that you have regarding your divorce. You don’t need me or a therapist to tell you that we can all act in ways that are out of character to avoid dealing with emotional difficulties or trauma. I’m willing to bet that many of us purchased an item or two on Amazon this past year out of concern or stress related to the pandemic. I can tell you that purchasing a house out of stress or fear of your post of worse life is more significant than buying a couple of shirts or a new pair of shoes from Amazon. 

Questions about the material presented in today’s blog post? Contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan

If you have any questions about the material presented in today’s blog post please do not hesitate to contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan. Our licensed family law attorneys offer free of charge consultation six days a week in person, over the phone, and via video. These consultations are a great way for you to learn more about the world of Texas family law as well as how your family circumstances may be impacted by the filing of a divorce or child custody case.