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Why should you wait before buying a home after divorce?

When Texas couples divorce, they may choose to sell the family home and split any profits. In some cases, one spouse buys out the other's share of the family home and stays in it him/herself. Whatever the case, one or both spouses often find themselves looking for another property to purchase not long after the divorce.

Obtaining a mortgage for that property, however, may be a challenge. Qualifying for a mortgage on a single income will likely be more difficult than with two incomes. Further, your post-divorce credit score and/or financial condition may prevent you from getting approved.

Financial experts often recommend that recently-divorced people not rush into purchasing a new home after a divorce for a number of reasons. These are not just financial. First, you are likely still in an emotionally-vulnerable place where making big decisions like a home purchase aren't wise. Second, owning a home, even a condo, can be a big job. If you and your spouse split responsibilities like home maintenance, gardening and decorating while you were together, you may find that they're too much to handle alone -- at least for the time being.

If you still dream of owning your own home as a single person in the future, it's never too early to start preparing:

-- Monitor your credit score. That can take a tumble during a marriage or during a divorce if your spouse was not conscientious about joint accounts or debts or if you ended up taking on some of your spouse's debt.-- Consider all of your sources of income before you apply for a mortgage, including child and spousal support.-- Have all of your financial documents in order before you apply. This may include your divorce decree, even years after the divorce was finalized.

In addition to getting sound financial advice before you take the home ownership plunge again, you may need to consult with your family law attorney. For example, if you have children and are planning to move further away from their other parent, you need to ensure that you aren't violating the terms of your custody agreement. Further, if your spouse's poor money management or problems paying support is hurting your financial situation, an attorney may be able to help you take steps to rectify that. These simple steps can help you be prepared for buying a home.

Source: WABI TV 5, "Finance Is Fun: Getting A Mortgage After A Divorce," Alllison Arbo, accessed July 13, 2015

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