Things To Consider About Co-Owning Property After A Divorce

Even though you and your spouse plan to file for divorce, you still get along reasonably well. That has led the two of you to consider continuing co-ownership of something. It might be your home, a cottage or other vacation property, a motorhome or something else of high value. Does this ever work out? Consult a divorce lawyer about the details. You might be surprised to learn that many divorced couples are successful at continuing to co-own real estate or other property.

Basic Co-Ownership vs. Sharing Property

It's important to consider the difference between basic co-ownership and actual sharing of property. Co-ownership can be complicated enough after a divorce without both of you continuing to use the property.

If you continue to co-own the family home, you might live there while your ex-spouse lives somewhere else. This can be advantageous in a poor real estate market, for instance. You could wait to list the house for sale until it's likely you'll get a better price.

Some couples continue to co-own the family house while one spouse gradually buys out the other spouse's interest in the place. That's helpful if only one of you wants to keep the place but can't afford to pay the other one outright.

In contrast, sharing property involves each of you spending time there together or separately. You both might continue to own a vacation cottage, for example. Perhaps you'll stay at the cottage on certain weekends and your ex will stay there on other weekends.

If children are involved, you might even consider staying there as a family now and then -- as long as your kids are clear this doesn't mean the marriage is back on track. 

Future Factors to Consider

It's important to realize that you and your ex-spouse may have some significant lifestyle changes in the future. This could impact your original arrangement. One or both of you could get married again; that marriage might involve stepchildren or new babies.

Talk with each other and with your lawyers about having a tentative plan in place for ending the legal co-ownership arrangements in the future. 

Set Up Your Arrangement Legally 

Protect your current and future interests with a specific agreement for co-ownership regarding mortgage payments, taxes and other important aspects. Address uncomfortable issues, such as what happens if one of you dies -- who inherits that portion of the property? Set up a schedule for sharing the property if that's your plan. Have your lawyers document all these arrangements legally in court. 

View this as a temporary plan. You might have the documents set up for one year and review the situation at that time. Not specifying an end date can lead to a contentious situation if one of you ever wants to sell his or her share of the property and the other one can't afford to pay for it.

For more information, contact Bray & Johnson Law Firm or a similar organization.