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After divorce living quarters: Co-op versus condo

Tens of thousands of New York City residents live in housing cooperatives. Co-ops residents carry a stake in the apartment property with saleable shares and membership obligations and rights. Co-op boards must approve buyers, which can be tricky situations for people who have just gone through a divorce.

Legal experts say co-op boards cannot discriminate due to marital status, but a prospective resident's money profile will influence a board's decision. Divorce can affect a credit rating, especially when an ex-spouse is adjusting to a new budget and trying to establish a solo financial identity. A resident's credit availability and bills tied to divorce settlements are co-op board considerations.

A divorced person saddled by long-term child support or alimony payments can appear financially overburdened. At the same time, a resident with an income that is based heavily on an ex's support payments may have a hard time convincing a co-op board of true financial independence.

Alimony is no longer a lifelong form of support. Child support usually lasts only as long as children are minors. In some cases, both forms of support can be very short term. Some co-op boards want to know as much about an ex-spouse as they do a potential resident, just to make sure the support payments have a solid, dependable source.

Some New York attorneys advise working out a co-op "maintenance guarantee" in a divorce agreement. When an ex-spouse is unwilling or unable to take a settlement in that direction, a broker may be able to smooth the way to co-op ownership by reviewing an application.

In the event a co-op board dismisses a request, former spouses have other options. Condominiums offer similar living arrangements without the all the extra questions and possible complications. Condos are individually-owned properties, not apartments with interdependent shares. Condos can be a solution for divorced individuals searching for homes that may have less restrictive entry requirements than co-ops.

Source:, "Will my divorce hurt my apartment search?" Teri Karush Rogers, Oct. 16, 2012

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