Case Study: Home Is Where the Value Is
Can a home valuation make a difference in a divorce settlement?
The following is a hypothetical case study that demonstrates a proposed approach for a working mother with two children who is passionate about keeping her home as part of her divorce settlement.
The woman’s home needs significant repair, is valued under market and has seven years remaining on a 15-year mortgage. In addition to the residence, the client has an expensive car with a large monthly payment scheduled for another 18 months.
The client’s projected sources of income after the divorce would include her salary, spousal support, and a lump sum distribution from the divorce settlement.
If a financial planner is brought in early in the divorce process, there would be an opportunity to assist the client’s attorneys in developing an equitable settlement by appropriately valuing assets and planning for expenses.
The focus of the approach should be on what the client desires most – keeping her home:
–LD Lowe’s approach would be to first develop two financial plans – one where the client keeps the home and another where she does not – in order to help determine the right course of action.
–As part of the divorce proceedings, the home has been appraised for a value that proves to be under market. Through independent research, LD Lowe could determine the home has additional potential value. For this purposes of this case, the assumed amount is $150,000 in additional home value. If the client’s settlement could obtain funds to cover the mortgage for the next seven years and make the needed repairs, she could realize the additional value above the equity provided by her settlement.
— If the settlement could obtain funds to pay off the car loan, the client could sell the vehicle and purchase a less expensive car and put money in her pocket.
–If opposing counsel does not uncover the additional value of the residence, the client could be able to negotiate her settlement based on the appraised value at the time of the proceedings.
–The client’s attorneys could negotiate an equitable lump sum settlement based on the financial plan, with an additional spousal support payment for a period of four years.
–If the car note is not paid off as part of the settlement, the lump sum and the spousal support payments could be used to develop a budget for the client where this expense is handled through its remaining 18-month term.
–Most important, the client would be able to realize her goal of keeping her home by meeting the mortgage and repair obligations.