Spouses who buy a home together in Pennsylvania typically face the question of who gets the real estate in a divorce. While some sell it and split the proceeds, others trade away other assets in the divorce to keep the property. Sentimental ties to the property or a desire to avoid disrupting the lives of children usually motivate this decision, but divorce financial planners frequently advise people, especially women, to let a home go.

The financial demands of keeping a house sometimes prove too much for a divorcee operating on a single income. Insurance, property taxes and maintenance could cause long-term financial hardship. The expense could prevent one from saving for retirement.

A new study, however, suggests that keeping the house might actually benefit people down the road because they will have equity in the real estate when they retire. This equity could be tapped to finance a more comfortable retirement. The study, which was conducted by the Center for Retirement Research, examined the financial consequences of divorce and found that divorcees had substantially less assets at retirement compared to those who never divorced. The one exception was divorced single women. They had wealth comparable to people who never married because many of them had kept their houses after divorce. The real estate provided a valuable asset that other divorced parties were frequently lacking.

Trends identified within large groups, however, do not necessarily apply on the individual level. A person seeking a divorce could gain specific advice from an attorney. After evaluating the client’s income, assets and potential obligations like child or spousal support, an attorney could offer insights about how to divide marital property. This information could help a person make informed choices during a divorce.