Should I Keep the Marital Home in Our Divorce for the Sake of the Kids?

Deciding what to do with the family home can be a challenging part of a divorce. When both parties agree on what to do—either one party buying out the other or selling the home and splitting the proceeds—everything goes smoothly. But when both parties want the home or one party wants to sell, tensions grow.

If you’re trying to decide what the best move for your family is, consider the benefits and drawbacks of keeping the marital home. For more personalized advice regarding your divorce, call Kirk Drennan Law at 205-803-3500.

The Kids’ School District and Social Network

For many parents, the deciding factor is their children’s school district and friendships. In many areas, you cannot choose to enroll your child in an outside school district—it is solely determined by where you live. If you have children old enough to be established in their assigned schools, that may be a major factor in deciding whether or not to keep the marital home.

Even if your children aren’t yet old enough for school, you may be lucky enough to own a home in a high-rated school district. If so, you may be unwilling to give up the chance for your children to grow up in a great school district.

Your kids’ social network is another important aspect to consider. Divorce is hard on children of all ages and taking away their support network at the same time can make it even more difficult for them to adjust.

The Financial Aspect

No matter how much you may want to keep the marital home, you have to think long and hard about how you can afford it. If you are the higher-earning spouse in your marriage, this may not even be an issue. However, if your spouse far out-earns you and you cannot qualify for the mortgage on your own, you may need to negotiate.

If you cannot afford the home on your own but you are determined to keep the home, this is something to discuss with your attorney. You may be able to exchange ownership of the house for lower alimony or a lower portion of other marital assets. If your co-parent recognizes the benefit of keeping your children in the same home for their formative years, they may be willing to see your side of the issue.

Consider Your Emotions Throughout This Process

While it is important to think about your children’s needs, don’t forget to think about what is best for you. Some people have no trouble continuing to live in the marital home after divorce. They remodel the house to be entirely their own and move into the future without looking back.

For others, it’s hard to separate the home and the memories it contains from their marriage. This is particularly true if the person staying in the home is not the person who wanted the divorce. Even if you think it may be best for your children to stay in their home, you don’t have to sacrifice your own mental and emotional wellbeing by staying in a home where you do not feel comfortable.

Consistency or a Fresh Start?

Basically, there is no cut-and-dry answer to this question. Every situation is unique, and no one can look in from the outside and tell you definitively what you should do. Maybe you chose your marital home as your forever home, and you are willing to do whatever you must to keep it. Maybe you know your children thrive there and have access to a great school district.

But it’s equally possible that you are drained from years spent in a home where you were mistreated, ignored, or worn down. In that case, no one would fault you for wanting a fresh start in your own home or apartment. Even if you think it might be best for your children to stay in their family hone, you also have to think of yourself. Children are resilient, and they fare best with parents who are happy and mentally healthy.

Look at the entire picture, weigh your options, and consider what you will have to give up in either scenario. Your attorney can also help you compare your options and guide you in the right direction.

Choose Kirk Drennan Law for Your Divorce Case

Divorce is not easy, but it can be less stressful if you have a strong attorney on your side. That’s where we can help. To set up a consultation, call Kirk Drennan Law at 205-803-3500 or contact our team online.

Trends in law: A woman’s perspective

The Birmingham Business Journal hosted a roundtable discussion about trends in law.

(Download PDF Version)

Source: Birmingham Business Journal

Taking Control of Your Finances After a Divorce

Getting a divorce is very stressful for everyone involved, putting an end to future plans and disrupting your finances. However, there is good news once you reach the end of this long process—you have the chance to start over and create a new future that centers on your goals and dreams.

As you start to plan for life after divorce, make sure you are taking the right steps during divorce. Call Kirk Drennan Law at 205-803-3500 to set up a consultation today.

Adjust Old Accounts or Start New Accounts

Whether or not you and your ex-spouse commingled your finances, you should go through each one of your financial accounts and ensure that they do not have access. Depending on the nature of the divorce, you may want to go one step further and actually close your current accounts before opening new accounts at a different bank. While removing your ex-spouse from an account should prevent them from getting access, sometimes bank tellers can be talked into giving someone access because they have the same last name or were one time on the account.

Check Insurance Policies and POA Paperwork

Go through every single insurance policy and retirement account you have. If you forget to change your beneficiary on any of these, you could be giving your ex-spouse a large payout should you pass away. Make sure you change all of these accounts to benefit those you actually want your funds to go to after you die. Similarly, if you have any power of attorney paperwork that would go into effect if you became incapacitated, ensure that you name someone else in this paperwork.

Run Your Credit Report and Do So on a Regular Basis

Before the divorce is finalized, run your credit report with all three credit bureaus. Look for unfamiliar accounts or unusually high balances. Unfortunately, it isn’t uncommon for a spouse to open secret credit cards or lines of credit in the months leading to a split. They may even take rarely checked credit cards and run up the balance, hoping you don’t check them in the interim. If anything suspicious has happened, you absolutely need it addressed before the divorce is finalized.

After the divorce is finalized, continue to check your credit report periodically. This is just good general financial advice, not even specifically for those who have been divorced. You want to ensure that none of your ex-spouse’s credit cards or lines of credit unintentionally show up on your report or drag your score down.

Set Up Automatic Payments

Your credit may take a hit after divorce if you fall behind on bills during the divorce. This isn’t uncommon; the costs of divorce plus the sudden drop in household income can be difficult to get used to. However, it’s time to get back on track once the divorce is finalized. Put your bills on autopay to avoid late fees and dings to your credit score and figure out a good budgeting system that works for you. While some people prefer good old pen and paper, many enjoy the convenience and ease of budgeting apps. Choose a system that requires minimal work and is easy to follow.

Develop New Financial Goals

Perhaps you and your ex-partner didn’t have clear financial goals, or maybe all of your goals centered on your life as a couple. Either way, it’s time to think about what kind of life you want long-term and what it takes to achieve that. Maybe this means putting more money in your retirement accounts, going back to school for more education, or starting that new business that has always been in the back of your mind.

This is the time to shake off the pain of the divorce and step into your potential as your own person. Take full advantage of it and make your money work for you.

Contact Kirk Drennan Law Today

Divorce isn’t easy, but with the right attorney, it can at least be less stressful. Let the team at Kirk Drennan Law help. To learn more about our options and start working toward this next chapter in life, call us at 205-803-3500 or get in touch with us online.

Personal Space: Jessica Kirk Drennan

A one-on-one conversation with Jessica Kirk Drennan, family law attorney.

B-Metro: What got you into the law and specifically family law?
Drennan: I grew up in a small town, Alexander City, so the big guys on the block were the lawyers and the doctors…that’s who you respected in town. That’s how it was in a small town. I wasn’t interested in medicine, but I really was attracted to the law from the time I had a mature thought about it.

B-Metro: What attracted you to the law?
Drennan: I liked the analysis of it and the verbal aspects, the debate. I have always liked that. I don’t consider confrontation, confrontation, I consider it discussion. It’s a lost art. And it is civil not uncivil. So I just always loved the idea of justice and I have always been for the little guy. That’s what attracted me to the law.

B-Metro: What was your first job like?
Drennan: After Tulane I went to work for a judge at first. Then I came home and a lawyer in town, Tom Radney, who was a big personality, called and wanted to know if I wanted a job. So I went home, interviewed and got the job. He talked the judge into releasing me from my clerkship and I went to work for him.
Six months out of school I went home and started practicing.

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Kirk Drennan Law Receives Pro Bono Award from Birmingham Bar Association

Kirk Drennan Law is thrilled to have received the 2016 Small Firm Pro Bono Award from The Birmingham Bar Association Volunteer Lawyers Program at the BBA annual meeting on December 9, 2016.

The Birmingham Bar Volunteer Lawyers Program helps attorneys provide free legal services to low-income citizens unable to afford attorneys who need help with civil legal problems. The program provides legal help on issues such as evictions, collections/garnishments, divorce, child support, visitation, and other civil problems to those unable to afford it.

Visit the Birmingham Bar Volunteer Lawyers Program page here. You can read more about Jessica Kirk Drennan’s volunteer activities on her attorney profile.

Jessica Kirk Drennan to Serve as Vice Chair of the Board of Birmingham Bar Volunteer Lawyers

As part of Kirk Drennan Law’s commitment to serving the community, Jessica Kirk Drennan will be serving as Vice Chair of the Board for the Birmingham Bar Volunteer Lawyers Program for 2017-2018. The Birmingham Bar Volunteer Lawyers Program helps attorneys provide free legal services to low-income citizens unable to afford attorneys who need help with civil legal problems. The program provides legal help on issues such as evictions, collections/garnishments, divorce, child support, visitation, and other civil problems to those unable to afford it.

Visit the Birmingham Bar Volunteer Lawyers page here. You can read more about Jessica Kirk Drennan’s volunteer activities on her attorney profile.

Megan Elder Listed as 2016 Rising Star Lawyer in BBJ

Congratulations to Megan Elder for being listed as a Rising Star Lawyer for 2016 in The Birmingham Business Journal!

Jessica Kirk Drennan speaks at Alabama State Bar Convention

Jessica Kirk Drennan was a speaker at the 2016 Alabama State Bar Convention on Thursday, June 23rd. Her presentation was titled “Hot Tips: Updates and Practice Pointers.”

You can view the convention program here.

Jessica Kirk Drennan to serve as a mentor at Bizwomen Mentoring Monday

Jessica Kirk Drennan will be serving as a mentor at Bizwomen Mentoring Monday on April 4, 2016. The event will offer attendees the opportunity to choose from 40 mentors who are the most-influential women in the community for one-on-one mentoring sessions.

When: Monday, April 4, 2016 7:30am-9:30am
Where: Renaissance Ross Bridge Golf Resort & Spa

You can view Jessica’s profile here.

Kirk Drennan Law listed as 2016 Top Flight Law firm in B·Metro

Kirk Drennan Law is pleased to be listed as 2016 Top Flight Law firm in B·Metro Magazine.