Separating Household Expenses During Divorce

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Separating Households During a Divorce

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Unfortunately, some marriages and relationships do not last forever and end in divorce. While divorce is specifically the legal separation between a married couple, the following information about what to do about your mortgage during a divorce, splitting remaining expenses and dividing up the belongings during a divorce can be applied to any relationship that has come to an end. 

Mortgages and divorce 

Any breakup can cause financial strain and those couples who owe a mortgage will need to take care when separating.

Even though you and your spouse are no longer married -- the mortgage is still your responsibility. In the eyes of a mortgage lender, you're still liable for the mortgage until you decide to sell it or refinance it--and each of those options should be considered carefully. 

It's best to keep your emotions out of it as much as possible, which can often be difficult. You may need to sit down with a financial consultant to discuss what would be best for everyone in the long-term in regards to the mortgage and the house or property in question. Selling a home is often the easiest way put the joint debt in the past, however, real estate markets fluctuate and the home may sell for less than what you owe--leaving you both with the balance. The other solution is to refinance the home in the name of one spouse -- the main caveat in this scenario is a single spouse may not be able to afford the entire mortgage on their own. 

Splitting remaining expenses 

Because divorce is not an instant process, there will probably be some overlap in monthly expenses. Whether it's the utility bills, insurance costs and property taxes, these previously joint expenses still need to be paid. If you're still living in the same house for the time being, sit down and have a discussion about splitting the remaining expenses. It might be easiest to keep things the same and pay the bills as you normally would -- there might be less confusion this way.

Even if you're living separately already, you both should still have a discussion about the expenses. You may decide to split the costs down the middle or divvy up and separate the costs entirely--i.e. "you pay the electric and I'll pay the gas." Aside from personal expenses like clothing and food, it would probably be best and fair to split the housing costs evenly until a decision about the property is made. 

Dividing belongings during a divorce 

Again, aside from personal items like clothing and electronics, dividing the belongings within a household should be done fairly and calmly. You and your spouse may decide that anything purchased together will be sold or anything purchased before the wedding is not on the table to be divided -- whatever the dividing line is, you need to establish it after talking with the other person.

This part of the separation process may take a long time and you may end up going through each and every item in the household with a fine-toothed comb. You will both need to decide whether it's worth the time and effort to go through everything to claim each individual item, sell it in a yard sale or donate it to a charity. Whatever you do, do not damage or destroy your spouse's items.

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on February 25, 2016

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