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What Should We Do With Our Family Home During Our Divorce?If you are one of the lucky people who get to live out the American dream by buying and owning your own home, you know how rewarding it can be to have a place of your own. When you are married, real estate property becomes more than a house – it becomes a home. Dealing with your family home can be one of the toughest decisions you will make when dividing your property during your divorce. In many cases, the family home is the most valuable asset a couple owns, both from a financial and sentimental perspective.

Generally, three basic options exist when it comes to dealing with your marital home. You and your spouse can choose to sell the home, one of you can keep the home, or you can both keep the home. Each family situation is unique, so what may be right for one family may not necessarily be right for another. 

Sell the House

The easiest way to deal with your family home is often just to sell it. If you and your spouse both agree to sell the home, you can take the equity you have in the home and split it, leaving each of you with part of the profits. The downside to selling your home is that you may owe capital gains taxes on the home if it has appreciated in value. If your home has depreciated in value, you might want to consider a different option.

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Will I Get to Keep My Retirement Savings in My Illinois Divorce?Under Illinois law, virtually any property that either spouse acquires during a marriage is considered marital property, which means that it is subject to being divided between the spouses if they ever get divorced. Such property usually includes wages from your job, even if the money was invested or deposited in a retirement account established in just one spouse’s name. This is also true for a vested pension plan because the value of a pension is based on the efforts of the working spouse, which, according to Illinois law, makes an asset part of the marital estate.

How Much of Your Savings Is Marital Property?

It is not uncommon for a working person to put away savings for retirement over the course of many years. As such, your retirement savings, including any funds in an Individual Retirement Account (IRA) or 401(k), may have started well before you even considered getting married. Any contributions that you made — as well as the increase in the value of your savings — before your marriage are considered non-marital property and are not subject to division. Contributions and value increases that occurred while you were married, however, are marital property, which means that they must be taken into consideration in the asset division process.

As your divorce proceedings get underway, it is a good idea for you and your lawyer to discuss your retirement savings with a qualified financial professional with experience in this type of matter. He or she can help you determine the marital and non-marital portions of your retirement savings, along with an accurate valuation of each portion. Depending on the situation, it might be possible for you to keep the full balance of your retirement savings, but to do so, you will need to offset their value by giving other assets to your soon-to-be ex-spouse.

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What Are the Benefits of Keeping Your Marital Home in a Divorce?The marital home is often one of the most prized possessions during a divorce. Being able to keep the home can be a huge win if both spouses want it. However, getting the home also has consequences that may make it less desirable to own. Some divorcees willingly give up their homes or agree to sell them. What are the advantages and disadvantages of getting the marital home in your divorce? Knowing this may determine your strategy for the division of property and other financial issues in your divorce.

The Advantages

Firstly, it is beneficial to have control over a marital property as valuable as a home. You may have already invested time and money into picking out your “dream home” and remodeling it the way you like. You do not know how much it would cost to purchase a similar home and whether you would like it as much as your current home. If your current home is not in your long-term plans, there is still the possibility that it could appreciate in value and earn you more in an eventual sale than you would receive in the divorce.

Children can also be a major factor in whether you want to keep the home. Your children would benefit from being able to live at least part of the time in the home that they are familiar with. They could continue to attend the same schools and see the same friends.

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Which Qualities Are Necessary for Your Real Estate Agent During Divorce?You have many important decisions to make about your marital home during a divorce, including whether you should sell it. Some spouses decide that selling their home is their best option if neither of them needs a home of that size or would be able to afford the home on their own. Selling the home could give both of you a significant amount of money to use in starting your post-marriage life. If you decide to sell your marital home, choosing an experienced real estate agent will be important in ensuring a successful sale that helps your divorce. There are characteristics that a real estate agent needs when selling a home for divorce:

  1. Neutrality: Because you will be using the same real estate agent, you need to feel that the agent is treating you equally. Showing favoritism to one side causes the other side to distrust the agent and may lead to conflict in the divorce. The agent must make a concerted effort to share information equally with both spouses, even though it is natural to communicate more with the spouse who is still living in the home.
  2. Diplomacy: Similar to neutrality, the agent should be diplomatic in dealing with you. An agent who has experience with divorcing clients should know how to help both sides agree on important issues regarding the sale. There may be times when your emotions lead to an argument with your spouse about the home. Your agent should know how to help defuse this situation and keep you on track with the sale.
  3. Trustworthiness: You always want to trust your real estate agent but may need to rely on that trust more during a divorce. You may not have the time to oversee every step of the sale. You need to trust that your agent can follow your instructions and make decisions that are in your best interest.
  4. Strong Negotiator: Your financial plan for your divorce may rely on the money you receive from selling your home. You need an agent who can negotiate a good price on the sale and complete it in a timely fashion so as not to delay your financial plans.

Contact a St. Charles, Illinois, Divorce Attorney

You should be able to learn whether a real estate agent would be a good fit for you by searching for client reviews and interviewing them. How do you find the best candidates among the hundreds of agents? A Kane County divorce lawyer at Goostree Law Group can recommend real estate agents when handling your divorce case. To schedule a free consultation, call 630-584-4800.

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Why It Is Important to Appraise Your House During DivorceIf you are a homeowner who is getting a divorce, a real estate appraisal is essential to ensuring that you have a fair division of property. Appraising your home is a natural step if you plan to sell it as part of your divorce. You need to know what your home is worth before you entertain offers for it. However, you also need an appraisal if one of you plans to keep the home following the divorce. The value of the home is part of calculating how to equitably divide your marital properties.

Preparing for an Appraisal

A real estate appraiser will estimate the value of your home based on factors such as its size, amenities, condition, and comparative market value. Your responsibility is to prepare your home so that it looks favorable to the appraiser. This may include:

  • Cleaning and organizing the interior and exterior of the home
  • Making sure that the major fixtures are working properly
  • Performing minor repairs
  • Maintaining the yard surrounding the house

Your goal is to polish the surface-level appearance of the home without spending too much money on it. For instance, you could clean your carpets if they are looking dirty, but installing new carpeting in a room would be an unnecessary expense.

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