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Should you fight to keep the family home in divorce?

This depends on your current real estate market as well as your cash flow moving forward. Emotion-based decision making can lead to costly mistakes.

The best option is often to sell the home, divide any equity and move on. But the real estate market recovery has not reached all neighborhoods. If selling your house is not an option, your property division considerations must include whether you can shoulder payments and account for what will happen with the mortgage.

Make a monthly budget to understand future cash flow.

What assets will you receive in the divorce? Can you easily access cash or are the funds tied up in property or a retirement account? How much can you hope to receive in alimony/spousal support or child support?

Think long-term. The answers to these questions will help you determine how much income you have each month. A financial planner can draw up several scenarios - for example, what happens to your income if your ex-spouse refuses to pay spousal support. Make sure holding onto the house does not leave you house poor and financially exposed in a crisis.

Deal with the mortgage during the divorce process.

If you co-signed the mortgage, it remains your responsibility until a refinance or sale. When an ex-spouse cannot refinance, you may agree to remain on the mortgage for a certain period of time. It may also be advantageous to wait for a number of years to sell.

In either case, put specific details into the divorce decree. How will the proceeds be split when the property is eventually sold? What happens if one spouse stops making payments?

In one case, a husband and wife agreed to sell the home in their divorce. The ex-husband never made a serious attempt to sell the home. Then he suffered an injury and stopped making payments. The mortgage company sought payment from the ex-wife. She refused, because she no longer lived at the property. She has little recourse and the situation effectively ruined her credit rating.

You must switch off emotion when making decisions related to property. A divorce attorney at Mahaffey & Associates can review your situation, develop a strategy for a fair asset division and ensure you are protected from unforeseen surprises.

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