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10 Hidden Costs of Keeping the House After Divorce

1. House appraisal - mortgage balance does not = equity to be divided between spouses.

Does your house need repairs? Have a home inspection prior to signing the divorce papers to determine if expensive repairs are necessary now, or are likely in the future. Many home inspections do not include the HVAC and this requires a separate inspection. Remember to subtract the projected expenses (painting/repairs etc.) to get the house ready to put on the market and closing costs from the value you assign the house.

2. Under estimating monthly expenses.

If you want to stay in the marital home, you should consider more than just the mortgage, taxes and insurance expenses when reviewing your housing expenses. Does your monthly budget include the cost to have your aggregate driveway sealed every 4 years, the exterior of the house painted every 5 years, the deductible for your home owner's insurance, or the expense to remove that fallen tree? A complete household budget should have about 30 items. A complete budget with household, personal, medical, transportation and children's expenses should have 130 items. If yours does not have this many items, you may be underestimating your expenses and think that you can afford to stay in the house, when you really can't.

3. Not budgeting for the unexpected.

Include a contingency in your monthly budget for those unexpected bills. Consider getting a home warranty to cover large expenses. The most expensive and frequent house repairs include:

  • HVAC
  • Plumbing leaks
  • Water heaters
  • Foundation issues
  • Termite damage
  • Roof repairs
  • Replacement of appliances

4. Not performing a timely title search.

Has your ex-spouse borrowed against the HELOC while you were going through the divorce process? Are you sure? A $60 investment in a proper title search can save you tens of thousands of dollars.

5. Unpaid property taxes.

Have property taxes been paid for the current year? If you keep the house and don't address this issue before the final papers are signed, you could get stuck paying for the whole year of taxes.

6. Not getting a C.L.U.E. report.

Get a C.L.U.E. report (up to 7 years of history of insurance claims) at ChoiceTrust or 866-312-8076.

7. Not knowing about liens on your property.

These expenses can be from many items including your ex-spouses unpaid legal bills, gambling debts etc. The lien stays with the land and must be paid before the homeowner receives any income from the sale of the home. Forget to check on liens and you could end up paying your ex-spouses debts.

8. HELOC expenditures.

If you will jointly own the home with your ex-spouse you should close/pay off HELOCs before the divorce is final. An ex-spouse that remains on the deed to the house can use HELOC that is secured by the former marital home kept by the other spouse to pay their post divorce debt. A creditor will pursue jointly held assets. A HELOC can only be closed if both spouses sign the paperwork.

9. Not understanding the risks if both ex-spouses stay on the mortgage after divorce.

  • One late payment lowers the credit score for each spouse
  • Foreclosure appears on both spouses' credit for 7+ years
  • Bankruptcy for one - creditors tries to collect entire balance from non-bankrupt spouse and can put a lien on your home.
  • Not properly changing the title to your house after divorce.

10. Not ensuring that the quitclaim papers are filed at the court house.

Yes, your attorney is supposed to do this. But, if he/she forgets to file the paperwork, you will be the one dealing with the headaches. Call the courthouse yourself and county recorder to ensure the quitclaim was properly filed.

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The plaintiff must be a resident of Tennessee in order to file for a divorce there. If the grounds for divorce occurred outside of the state, either of the parties must have resided in the state for six months before filing. Military personnel must be a resident of the state for at least one year prior to filing. The petition must be filed in the chancery or circuit court in the county where the parties reside at the time of their separation, or in either the county where the defendant resides, or where the applicant resides.
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