Waiving Alimony for the House: Crunching Numbers | Sterling Law Offices, S.C. global $post;
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There is one simple fact when it comes to accepting what is a good deal, and what is not: Do the math.

All too often we find ourselves with facing a decision, fighting for what we want, or letting go of what may actually be a pipedream. A divorce, as many of us already know, is a dream that has withered. It is fueled by emotion, and can be reinforced by anger or resentment, and sometimes both. This is more often than not aided by the opinions of friends and family. Some give us advice based on empathy, others sympathy, but usually these opinions are based on telling someone what they want to hear and “fighting the good fight”.

Unfortunately, most of this advice may not be sound. It is grounded in raw emotion rather than facts. When we receive advice from a friend, we rarely see them first pull out a calculator and start pressing buttons. It is even more rare that after they are finished crunching numbers, they tell us to give up on what we think we want most.

Many divorce disputes are centered around the home. Who gets it in the event of a divorce? Will you be forced to sell? What if you are one of the many individuals that do not want to give up the home, and will do anything not to sell? It is your “dream home”. After all, you completed all of the renovations by hand. Your neighbors are your friends. It is the perfect walking distance to the local Starbucks and the park. Would you be willing to wave alimony or maintenance for a chance at buying out your partners stake in the home? This may sound ideal, but first, you need to do the math.

I spoke to a friend who had this dream. She had one “ideal” vision. The calculator had quite another vision. Unfortunately, the numbers don’t lie. They don’t tell us what we want to hear. They do not always take our side. My friend Theresa felt that she should have the home, but unfortunately, her husband was set on selling the house. She insisted on keeping the house even if it meant waiving her alimony for an option to buy, and others told her to “do whatever it takes”. She told me of her plan to achieve her goal of keeping the house. Her dream ideal vision was -$250,000 (waived total alimony), +$400,000 (The value of 50% of the home), -$10,000 (total legal fees), for a payment of $140,000. She only worked part-time, so this was a small fortune to her. When I pulled out the calculator and started crunching numbers, I showed her that +$250,000 (collected alimony), +$400,000 (collected 50% home value), -$10,000 (total legal fees), she would end up with $640,000. With this new information, she decided that she would buy a new “dream home”. Thanks to crunching the numbers, she didn’t have to sacrifice her dream after all. She just found a new one.

Trisha Festerling, J.D.

Family Law Attorney

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