Can I keep the beach house in a divorce?

Jul 11, 2017 | Property Division

The beach house is your home away from home, and you might want to keep it in the divorce. However, with two people’s combined debts and all the financial figures being thrown around, you do not know if keeping the beach house is possible.

The good news is it may be. However, the situation might not be clear-cut and could require finesse, especially if your spouse wants the beach house as well. It can be a good idea to retain a lawyer if you have not already.


One possible wrinkle has to do with the location of the beach house. If it is in the United States, whatever is decided in your Illinois divorce decree applies. The same goes for many countries in the world. However, if your beach house or vacation property is in a country such as Taiwan, it could be difficult to enforce the divorce decree.

Shared desire

Another wrinkle could occur if both of you want the beach house and are having a hard time deciding who gets it. You might even want to agree that both of you keep the house for the sake of your minor children, just alternating visits (for example, you get it one year and your ex gets it the next year, or you get it six months of every year).

Such agreements need careful consideration and planning so they do not backfire. For example, if the house is not paid off, how will the two of you handle that? How about ongoing repairs and replacing furniture? What about relatives using the house, and what happens after one of you dies?

Taxes and other financial matters

Then there is the matter of taxes. What happens in this regard could mean a difference of thousands of dollars or even more depending on whether the property is sold, refinanced or rented out.

Of course, the beach house is likely not the only issue in the divorce; it is important to prioritize what matters to you. You may want to keep the beach house but might have a few other issues that take higher priority—you just have not had the time yet to think through all the implications. Meeting with a lawyer can help clarify the situation.