Real Estate and Divorce....it is not seasonal...it is recession proof....and there is never a dull moment if you choose to have this niche as part of your practice.
Wisconsin is a community property state one of nine in the country which include: Arizona, California, Idaho, Louisiana, Nevada, New Mexico, Texas and Washington. In addition, Alaska is called an "opt in" community property state where both spouses have the option to make their property, community property if they so choose. Basically, that means that property is "divided equally"....the house, the cars, the investments, etc. belong equally to each spouse. That does not mean that there are not trade offs...one gets this and the other gets that of equal value. It also doesn't mean that there are legal ways to exclude property, money etc. from division for example inheritance.
Sometimes, rather than sell the real estate owned during the marriage, a spouse would rather buy the other spouse out and keep the property....sometimes that is possible and sometimes not...though often neither the spouse nor the lawyers nor the judge look at the realities of a one spouse buying out the other. Divorce can for many people be a kind of "identity crisis." Part of who they are is that house in the neighborhood they chose, that designer's clothing line, that make of car, that brand of ...you name it...the "outside appearance" is their identity and divorce means financial compromise where not all of those things are possible with income divided, maintenance and child support can be factors as well. The reality of their lives having a "new normal" is not comfortable....and the house is something that they want to hang on to, to make not only that outward appearance "normal" but to have the prestige of that creature comfort not be disturbed by the severance of the marriage.
It is very often a judge's order in divorce that one spouse is given a specific period of time to either refinance or sell the house. In this Divorce Realtor Expert's opinion that time is usually too long. The realties of credit scores, debt to income ratios, down payments do not take months to evaluate. As with any home purchase or refinance, the decision can made quite quickly by a competent loan officer given the "new normal" of the spouse's financial position. If maintenance and/or support are owed this is taken from the spouse's check and processed through the state so the new net and the old net are not discretionary....as with taxes...the money just disappears from gross earnings. One spouse may be taking on more debt than the other which of course plays a part in this abiity to refinance....as does the credit score that may be less than sterling. Sometimes not paying bills even when ordered to by the court but "incurred by the future ex-spouse" are not paid on a timely basis believing this punishes the almost ex...with no regard to the hit taken on a credit score.
Threats of "buy outs" may be just that...a threat that is financially empty and fiscally impossible...adding emotional fuel to the fire of a contentious divorce....but in reality, with no basis in fact or opportunity. "Wanting" to refinance, wanting things to be as "normal as the past" is not enough....or realistic. It is not how either spouse will move on to the next stage of their life as a single person. Divorce forces people to examine new realities...not wishful ones.
Doing a financial reality check before one gets to trial....or better yet...making this financial examination some of the "home work" that should be done to have a meaningful settlement conference lessen the frustration, wind down the stress and enables each spouse to approach the "new normal" realistically.
This post has been writtten as a service to all people...spouses...lawyers....realtors...and judges as a pro active consideration for resolution of one of the issues in divorce. If you or anyone you know is considering divorce in southeastern Wisconsin, Call the Hansons, we are the only certified divorce specialists in the state and honored to be of service.