Divorce can be a lengthy process and it is natural for the individuals involved to want to take steps to move on prior to its finalization. However, before making big financial decisions, such as the purchase of a new house, it is important to understand the legal consequences.
First, court orders may prevent the purchase of a home. Often at the beginning of the divorce case, court orders are put into place to prevent the spouses from making major purchases and incurring major debts. The parties may spend only what is necessary for living expenses for food, clothing, shelter, transportation, and medical care, and for expenses related to the divorce.
Second, a home purchase creates community property that the court must divide in the divorce. A house bought during the marriage, even during divorce proceedings, is considered the community property of both spouses. The house will be considered to be owned by both spouses and there is no guarantee it will be awarded to you in the division of the estate.
The decision to purchase a home while the divorce is pending should not be taken lightly. Such a decision should only be made after consulting with your attorney about the potential problems and whether they can be resolved or whether it is best to wait until the divorce is final.
Cindy Diggs, Board Certified in Family Law and Civil Trial Law, Diggs & Sadler 5300 Memorial Drive, Suite 900, Houston, Texas 77007, (713) 766-5355.