Q: After five years of marriage, my husband and I are parting ways. We have more or less decided that I would stay in the house with our trusty dog and that I would buy him out of his portion. What do I need to do?
A: The first step you will need to address is setting out your terms of separation in what is known as a separation agreement.
Most couples have this spelled out by their family law lawyers, however, it has been known in amicable situations that the parties come to terms on their own.
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Regardless of how it is done, it is a good idea to put this in writing.
You will then need to approach your financial institution in order to apply for mortgage financing on your own.
Hopefully, you are given the ability to re-finance the property with funds left over so that you can pay your ex-husband (or soon to be) the equity that is due to him out of the new mortgage funds.
If the separation is not entirely adversarial, one real estate lawyer can be hired to deal with the transaction.
Otherwise, if the two of you want to kill each other, you may need two lawyers to act on each of your behalves.
This is a stressful and time-consuming process and you should engage a real estate lawyer who is familiar with separation agreements, dealing with parties who are often going through a very emotional time in their lives with a degree of compassion and understanding.
Jeffrey Cowan is the principal of Cowan Law and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.