Home sweet home. Or is it?

How to decide if you should move or stay in your home after divorce.

Aynsley Jurson
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Your home is your sanctuary from the outside world. The place where you make memories with your family, express your style and celebrate milestones with the people you love. It’s also likely to be your most valuable financial asset.

It’s no surprise then that during a divorce one of the biggest questions will be – who gets the house? But the questions don’t stop there. If you get the house, you’ll need to decide whether to stay put or move. It’s a big decision and there are a few things you need to consider.

Will the familiarity comfort you or compromise your wellbeing?  

Being surrounded by memories of your children growing up is lovely – the hallway where they took their first steps, the playroom where they held their first tea party with their toys, the backyard where they’ve celebrated birthdays and etched their names in the tree trunks. There can also be a downside to being surrounded by memories, particularly if your relationship with your spouse was toxic.

Your home was the place where your relationship began to unravel and eventually fall apart. If the memories of your marriage are painful, moving into a new place might be exactly what you need for a fresh start. A place to make new memories, and explore your newfound independence.

Can you afford it?

Gaining ownership of the family home might feel like a victory but you need to carefully consider whether it’s one that will serve you long term. Can you afford the maintenance, rates and bills associated with the house? If you have a mortgage, can you afford the repayments on your own? What expenses do you have coming up – school fees, personal development courses, family holidays – that you’ll need cash to pay for? What financial flexibility have you traded off?

If your home comes with a heap of financial stress, it may not be worth holding on to. Think about your long term goals, your overall wellbeing and how much liquid cash you need to move on. Moving into a smaller home that is less costly to run might take a huge weight off your shoulders.

How much maintenance is involved?

Do you have a large garden that needs regular mowing and maintenance? Does the timber deck need to be stripped back and stained every Summer? Is the house starting to look tired and in need of painting, restumping and sprucing up?

When there are two adults living in a home, it’s easy to divvy up the maintenance tasks and get it done. Or if there were two incomes you might have paid for help in this area.  But it can all get a bit much when it’s down to you, particularly if your spouse tended to handle more of the maintenance tasks. Yes, you can outsource these things but it can be costly. Spending your weekends in the garden might be right up your alley but if you’d rather be enjoying brunch with friends or taking the kids for weekends away, you may be better off in a more low maintenance home.

How will it affect your kids?

Divorce can be extremely tough on kids. Moving out of the family home can further  disrupt their lives, particularly if it means moving away from their friends and changing schools. If you are sharing custody of your children, it might be good for your kids to have one home that feels familiar. At the same time, kids tend to adjust quite well and the excitement of having two new rooms to decorate might give them a boost.

You know your kids better than anyone so only you can decide what’s in their best interests. If they’re old enough, have an open discussion about your thoughts and get them to contribute to the decision so they have a sense of ownership over the outcome. If you have no choice but to move, be honest with them and trust that they’ll understand even if it takes some time.  

When so many things in your life are changing, it’s natural to want to hold on to the familiar. The decision to stay in your home is often a very emotional one but you do need to balance your emotions with practicality.

If you need help making a decision, I highly recommend chatting to a financial planner, a real estate agent and/or a buyer’s advocate. These professionals can help you gain a clear picture of the pros and cons specific to your situation. It’s not an easy decision, but I know you’ll make the right one for you and your family.

Staying in the family home or moving is one of many big decisions you’ll need to make during your divorce.

If you’d like our support in making smart decisions that will benefit you now and in the future, please book a 20-minute Connect Call to find out more about our approach. We also encourage you to read about the benefits of financial transition planning, a progressive approach to financial empowerment during tough life transitions.

A bit about me

It’s fair to say I’m not your traditional financial adviser.

While I have decades of experience in financial services, I believe in leading with compassion rather than a calculator. As the Managing Director of Jurson Advisory, I empower busy professionals to make smart decisions before, during and after divorce. With the support of an expert team, I resolve any complex money matters so you can take charge of your finances and grow more hopeful and excited about the future.

Prior to setting up Jurson Advisory in 2015, I enjoyed a successful career as a Director at Goldman Sachs JBWere and a Senior Investment Adviser at Macquarie Bank. My desire to combine expertise with empathy, led to me qualifying as a Certified Financial Transitionist® and pioneering a new approach to divorce financial planning in Australia.

When I’m not financially empowering people through their divorce, you’ll find me gardening and spending time with my family in the idyllic Macedon Ranges.

Learn More

Aynsley Jurson and her company, Jurson Advisory Pty Ltd (ABN 53 605 826560) are authorised representatives of Fitzpatricks Private Wealth Pty Ltd (ABN33 093 667 595), holder of an Australian Financial Services Licence (AFSL No.247 429).

The information is of a general nature only and does not take into account the objectives, financial situation or needs of any person. Before acting on the information, investors should consider its appropriateness having regard to their own objectives, financial situation and needs and obtain professional advice.

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