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Divorcing in Florida? Options for what to do with your house

You're divorcing, and you're done deciding how to split the contents of your Florida home. It went fairly smoothly, save for the squabbles over the living room furniture, the kids' artwork and the big-screen TV.

But you've yet to come to an agreement on the biggest possession of all: the house itself.

It's a tough hurdle to leap because it represents both a financial and emotional decision. But it's one that has to be made, however. Here are some options to consider.

  1. Sell the house immediately. This is the best option if both spouses are ready to leave the home or if neither party can afford the mortgage, taxes and upkeep on one income. Use a neutral real estate agent, meaning one who has no pre-existing ties to either spouse.
  2. Buy out the other party, refinance the mortgage and have the ex-spouse removed from the deed. This requires having the property appraised to measure the property value. Deduct all outstanding loan costs, then subtract the costs and fees associated with the transfer of property from the market value. Split the remainder in half, and that's the number to begin your negotiations with your ex.
  3. Surrender your interest in half of the house without receiving any compensation. This could be attractive if the one spouse can afford all the payments, and there is little to no equity in the property. Make sure to have all transfer documents legally executed, so the spouse who moves out can't claim an interest in the property later on.
  4. Think about birdnesting. That's where couples acquire a second place to live - think small apartment - and each person rotates between the house and the apartment. This is beneficial if you have children you don't want to disrupt. The kids stay in the house on a full-time basis. It's the parents who shuttle in and out.
  5. Agree on a time to sell in the future and decide who will live in the home and how to share costs. This puts off making a decision about selling and allows you to wait until the kids are older or until you build more equity in your home.

Whatever you decide to do with your home, it should be fair to both parties. Some of these options involve agreements that should be done in writing. Make sure to have the advice of an experienced family law attorney.

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