Dividing the marital home in divorce can be a financially and emotionally fraught experience.

Mariaelena Caputi

As soon as she knew her husband wasn’t coming back, Terri Martin logged onto Facebook Marketplace and bought a 1949 General Electric refrigerator for $5. Her marriage might be over, she thought, but her relationship with her home certainly wasn’t.

“I started to realize that even without him, I still loved the house,” said Ms. Martin, 37, a knitwear designer in Cincinnati.

With her husband, Tim Larson, 37, out of the picture, Ms. Martin would no longer have to sell him on her vision of a retro kitchen that would embrace the historic character of the 1916 American Foursquare, a house the couple bought in 2021 for $180,000. She was now free to rip out the generic yellow oak cabinets and install open shelving, replace the vinyl floors with linoleum, and swap the run-of-the-mill stainless steel refrigerator for the vintage Facebook find. “It is exciting to think about doing the entire kitchen now and not having to compromise,” Ms. Martin said on Feb. 1, hours after filing for a dissolution of marriage.

Ms. Martin decided she wanted to keep her house in Cincinnati and make it her own after her marriage ended.Madeleine Hordinski for The New York Times
Mr. Larson sees the house as a “moot point” now that his marriage to Ms. Martin has ended.Madeleine Hordinski for The New York Times

Mr. Larson, a prosthetic limb designer who has been rotating through Airbnbs since he moved out last spring, said he found renovating the fixer upper more of a chore than a joy. With the marriage over, he sees no reason to keep the house. “The house is just kind of a moot point to me,” he said. “She can have it.”

The marriage was dissolved on Wednesday.

A yellow brick house with a porch.
Ms. Martin and Mr. Larson bought the American Foursquare in 2021 with plans to renovate it.Madeleine Hordinski for The New York Times

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