In September of 2008, I posted a blog entry on The Value of Real Estate – Problems in this Ever Changing Market. In that post, given the decline in the real estate market, it was posited that retaining the marital home may not be the best financial strategy. Unfortunately, little has changed in the real estate market since that time to change conclusions of that post.
That said, in many cases, the marital home remains the single largest asset to divide in divorce. Moreover, with the continuing troubles in the economy, it may represent the only way for either or both of the parties to wind up with liquid funds after the divorce. Now if the home is going to be sold, or one party is going to buy out the other, then there usually is little dispute other than logistics of sales price, how soon to reduce the price, how to handle repairs until sale, etc.
The problem arises if one party wants to defer distribution to allow the child(ren) to finish high school, etc. There is a question of fairness to the other spouse whose equitable distribution is tied up as may be their ability to buy a house of their own both (1) because they don’t have the money for a down payment until they get their share of the house or (2) they are still on the mortgage of the marital home. Further, due to the decline in the real estate market, parties are now also agreeing to defer the distribution for some period of time in hopes that the market will rebound, as opposed to selling now.