Imagine the scenario. You’ve gone to counseling, endlessly talked things through, and yet you just can’t salvage your marriage. You decide to divorce, you pack up all your worldly goods, and then you realize you’ve got nowhere to go. It’s not an uncommon scenario, and with the global recession making life harder, many couples are forced to live together despite being separated or divorced. Over in the UK, a study showed that seven percent of adults had been in this position, and with the housing market stagnant, there are bound to be many separated couples living in this difficult arrangement. What are your options if you simply can’t afford to support two households?
Get financial advice
Although you may think you can work out your budget alone, it’s important to get a professional to look things over. They can advise you on your current position, and changes you can make to secure your future in the long-term. Ideally, you should both attend an appointment to discuss your situation and see what can be done. You need a professional who really knows their stuff, and can talk you through a range of different mortgage options that may be suitable for you, or perhaps advise ways in which you can save some money for your impending divorce. Reaching a financial agreement will also make the divorce process much quicker, so it’s a good idea to keep things amicable. Make sure your adviser is a Certified Financial Planner (CFP), and ideally someone who has dealt with these kinds of cases before. Although you may find that you can’t move out right away, you’ll at least have a plan and a deadline to stick to, giving you hope for the future.
One home into two
If you have a larger property that has been on the market for a while, consider whether it could be converted into two separate homes. This could be a great option for those with young children, allowing them to easily share custody and always be close at hand. You may need legal advice if you plan to split a home into two different addresses, as laws will vary in different states. However, if you live in an area with extortionate rent, then the services of a lawyer and building contractor could pale in comparison to years of renting while the family home is on the market. You should also consider the emotional ramifications of living inside to side properties. Will you feel like you’ve not moved on? What happens if one of you wants to enter the dating scene again? This set-up will only work if things are amicable, and you are honest with the children about the situation.
In-law Suites & Annexes
If you’ve got the space in your yard, then a second dwelling such as a granny flat is usually an easy way to create your own space. This is certainly not a long-term solution, but it allows you to have some time away from your ex-partner while finances are sorted out. If you’re lucky enough to live somewhere with a hot climate, then a pool or summer house is usually comfortable enough for temporary accommodation. If you find yourself in this situation, then set some boundaries. You are effectively living outside the family home, so don’t feel you can come and go as you please. Make arrangements for visiting the children, don’t just drop in at any time and expect it to be OK with your ex. Most importantly, don’t get too comfortable. You may feel relieved to no longer be under the same roof, but you still need to move on at some point, so seek legal advice about your situation.
Selling off assets
If you can’t sell your home, then look at other ways you can raise some cash. You may have to get rid of things that you enjoy and worked hard to buy, but if it means freedom then it might just be worth it. Keep in mind that it’s likely you’ll both be moving to smaller properties, so you will need to downsize your possessions anyway. This can free up some cash flow for legal fees, counseling, and all those little expenses that come with starting a new life.
The process of separating or divorcing is never easy, and with the property market in a slump, you may find yourself in an awkward living situation. Don’t be afraid to seek financial or legal advice as early as possible. It means you can make a plan and helps you to keep things amicable during this difficult time in your lives.