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Can I wind up with the house in a collaborative divorce?

If you and your spouse are planning to split up using collaborative divorce, what happens when the two of you both want to keep the house? As the very nature of collaborative law revolves around the parties' abilities to work together to resolve their issues, this major issue can toss a monkey wrench into an otherwise civil process.

It's important to understand that the family (or marital) home often represents much more than just a piece of real estate. Walking away from the family home can be another bad blow to absorb.

The marital home is more than an asset

For young parents rearing a family, the family home represents and provides the stability and continuity that kids crave. Remaining at home means the kids don't lose ties to neighborhood friends or have to change schools.

Baby boomers may also have strong sentimental ties to the home where their babies took their first steps. It's still the place those now-adult children and their offspring return, like homing pigeons, for every holiday and festive occasion.

It can also be a liability

Now is the time to let your head rule your heart, learn about all of your legal options and weigh the pros and cons of being a solo homeowner.

Do the math first. Is it financially feasible that you keep the house on a single income, or were the two of you living paycheck to paycheck? Don't forget to add the cost of property taxes, homeowner's insurance and Homeowners Association (HOA) dues.

Even if the numbers work out, consider the maintenance — not not just the expenses, although they may be considerable. Over time and Illinois winters, roofs leak and furnaces bite the dust on frigid January nights. Are you up to the task of repairs or be able to afford to hire labor?

Collaboration involves compromise

With these factors in mind, you and your soon-to-be ex can reach a solution by which all parties will abide.

Source: Divorce Magazine, "What should women keep in mind when deciding the fate of the family home?," Bari Zell Weinberger, July 26, 2017

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