Famous divorce attorney Marvin Mitchelson wrote in his book on divorce that the hardest thing for a divorce attorney to do was to convince a divorcing woman not to keep the house. To the divorcing woman, the home is the bedrock of her existence. Her attitude is that she is not going to let the man who destroyed her life take her house too. When the divorce attorney asks the woman to consider not keeping the house, they usually get yelled at. But here are the problems with keeping the home:
- you need liquid assets to invest and help you live. The home is not spendable.
- homes are extremely hard to maintain
- homes are expensive to maintain
- for many, the home is the biggest asset, and if you take it, you get very little cash, comparatively.
- it will serve as a constant reminder of the bad breakup of the marriage
I have shared the same problems as Marvin Mitchelson in my practice. I recently lost a client over this very same issue. Just days after losing this client, I checked in with a client whose divorce case concluded several years ago (with a very nice settlement, but with her keeping the home against my advice). Here is what she said.
“I wish I had listened to you about being so adamant about keeping the house. It was WAY too big and WAY too much upkeep for me as a single person. I am sooooo much happier in my smaller house that is MINE… and not a house that I have shared with an idiot!!! I am not going to lie tho when my ex and that girlfriend of his bought it, it made me shed some tears. But now I am so happy it doesn’t phase me near about as much. I guess I just had to go through the process at my own speed and process everything before I was ready to detach!”
She later wrote how liberating it was to find a completely new house, even though she sold the old house to her ex and his girlfriend, who had always promised she would one day have her house!!
“I know when you are going through a divorce it’s hard to detach from things. And giving up MY house was HUGE for me. I linked it to the thought that that was where I raised my kids. But I finally accepted the fact that a house is only four walls. It’s not where I resided that made it the home but the people there. I can NOT even explain how much happier I am with absolutely ZERO reminders of all the crappy memories. Even three years after the divorce I could be sitting outside and still have the image of my ex-driving up the driveway every day after work. It was truly making me miserable. I just didn’t realize how miserable it was making me until I got my own place. MY place. MY space. MY belongings. No bad thoughts or memories or connections with my new house. I LOVE it!!! But like I said… it took me processing through everything before I was truly ready to “let go”. And yes I shed quite a few tears when I left my house for the last time. But I ain’t shed another one since I drove out of that driveway for the last time!!!”
I am sharing this with the world with the encouragement of my client, who wants other women to profit from her experience.