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#23 Using Housing Wealth in a Divorce Settlement


After months and months of back and forth negotiations and mediation, your divorce is at last being finalized. The one item about which there has been no dispute is the occupancy of your home, since you are the only one interested in continuing to live and work in Indiana, while your soon-to-be ex intends to relocate to the East Coast.

The greatest portion of your investment assets is held in your respective retirement plans, which is one fairly large, jointly held stock and fund portfolio. There would be little problem splitting that account “down the middle”, as your financial advisor has assured you. The only issue is that, in order to have him cede total ownership of the house to you, you would need to part with two thirds of your share of the investment portfolio. Tax considerations totally aside, you are extremely reluctant to do this. After all, it has been you who has dealt with the advisors in selecting and monitoring the portfolio over the past at least thirty years.

Since it has been agreed that you will be the one remaining in the home, tapping into the built-up equity might prove to be the best source of funds for your divorce settlement. Once you are able to document the fact that you are now sole owner of the home, you can draw a lump sum out of the reverse mortgage to satisfy your divorce settlement obligation and still maintain control of the investment portfolio. With no obligation to make monthly mortgage payments, you will be under no pressure to liquidate or transfer investments.

*Not intended as financial planning advice. Please consult a financial advisor. Borrower must occupy home as primary residence and remain current on property taxes, homeowner’s insurance, the costs of home maintenance, and any HOA fees.