In divorce, we are familiar with parenting plans which outline, often in great detail, how separating parents will each spend time with their children. Though not as common, we are also familiar with “pet parenting plans” which describe how separating couples will take turns caring for their pet.
In addition to children and pets, there are many other plans that divorcing couples can make concerning their post separation life. One of them is the “Vacation Home Sharing Plan.” This may not always be so easy to put in place, but with good will and effort on both parts, an agreement may very well be worked out.
From time to time in my practice, I encounter divorcing couples who, for a variety of reasons, would like to keep and continue to share their vacation home. One of the most common reasons may be that they want to maintain continuity for their children. Or they may just both love the house and neither is ready to part with it.
The first step in the process of a vacation home plan would be to make sure that they can financially afford to keep the house. Once that is established, there are some other issues that need to be resolved:
- Will each of them use the house 50% of the time?
- What happens if one party wants to go over his 50% when the other party is not using the house at that time?
- Can each party lend the house to family or friends during the time that they have the house?
- How will they share taking care of the house? Cleaning, repairs, purchases of necessary equipment, etc.
- How will they share in the costs of the house? Mortgage payments, taxes and insurance, repairs, etc.
- If one of them no longer wants to share the house, how do they handle it? Buy-out, outright sale? If the latter, how do they share in the proceeds?
There are many more issues that may need to be ironed out depending on the circumstances of each family. And just as with parenting and pet plans, one cannot predict everything, so parties will need to agree on when and how they will communicate to resolve an issue not previously discussed.
In mediation, separating or divorcing couples can explore all their concerns and put in place detailed personalized plans. Are you divorced or separated and still sharing the vacation home? Please share your experiences with us.
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