Q. My husband and I are in the process of getting divorced. We have the kids sorted out, child support and alimony and most of the asset division. We are stuck on the house. We both want it – we bought it 15 years ago – it is big and old and we both still love it. He got an appraisal that I think is a bit low and he really wants to buy out my interest at that level. I just don’t want to move. I also think whoever keeps the house will have an advantage because that’s where the kids will want to be more often than not as they get older.
What happens if I don’t agree that he can buy me out?
A. There are a few things that can happen from negotiating a higher buyout to forcing the issue to trial. There are some possible advantages to his buying you out. Would you feel the same way if you could goose up his number a bit? If you really think its worth more, get your own appraisal. If it is much higher than his, try to get him to buy you out at your number. If the numbers are close, but yours is higher, you can either try to get him to your number or agree to average the two. Of course, its possible your number will be lower.
If you are not convinced this is the right thing to do, you can force the issue to trial. You can enter into an agreement on everything but the disposition of the house. You can ask the judge to schedule a one-day trial so you can each have your appraisers testify to establish the value and you and your husband can each testify about why you should each be the one to buy out the other’s interest. At the end of the day, I can almost guarantee everyone loses and the judge just orders the house to be sold making everyone start over in a new abode.
Consider some alternatives. If he keeps the house, you will have a down-payment for a new home, possibly a place that you would want to live in as a single person once your children are off at college, likely with less maintenance than the existing house. Meanwhile, your share of the equity won’t be reduced by a broker’s commission or capital gain taxes if he is buying out your share in the way it would if a judge orders it sold.
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