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Are you really ready to fight for the house in the divorce?

This is the house where you have raised your children and put down roots. The divorce is already uprooting you emotionally, and you do not want to give up the safety and security you feel when you are at home. You want to keep the house.

Before you declare your intention at the negotiation table, though, consider the financial effects this will have on your life if you win. The price may be too high.

Re-purchasing the house

Just because the final divorce decree states that you get the house does not mean it is automatically legally yours. You will need to take your spouse off the title and the mortgage. This means you will have to refinance.

You may be able to buy out your spouse's portion of the equity when you refinance, but that means your mortgage will cover not only the remaining debt but also the amount you need to give to your spouse.

Also, you qualified for your old mortgage when you had two incomes. Will your income alone support a new mortgage? How much of your income will the new payment take? Financial experts recommend that housing uses no more than 30% of your monthly income.

Paying the taxes

Usually, homeowners pay property taxes into their escrow account monthly. When you are figuring out how much of a house payment you can afford, check out your county assessor's website to see what the local tax rate is and how much your house is worth. You can use this to get an estimate for the amount that you can expect to see added to your monthly mortgage payment. 

Maintaining the house

Keep in mind, you are going to be paying for upkeep and repairs, too. According to common wisdom, you should put back at least 1% of the value of your home each year for maintenance. So, if your house value is $250,000, you should be saving $2,500 per year for unexpected repairs. If your house is older, it may require even more. 

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