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Facing formidable financial choices in divorce

When you say "I do," you are in love and ready to spend your life with that very special person. When the relationship changes and the possibility of divorce becomes a reality, it can be difficult, to say the least, to sort through all of the accompanying emotions.

At the very same time, a person going through a divorce needs to sit down with a family law attorney and talk through their priorities in matters such as child custody, spousal support and looming financial decisions.

A recent article in a business publication pointed out that you can reduce stress in a divorce by anticipating the financial choices you will have to make and understanding the available options.

For many, the biggest financial decision in divorce revolves around their home. While there might well be an emotional attachment to the house -- especially true for parents -- keeping it can be a tremendous financial burden.

Far too often, people will crunch the numbers on the mortgage and decide that yes, they can afford to keep the house but fail to take into account the unexpected expenses of upkeep. A new roof, refrigerator or washer-dryer can bust the bank account.

A financial advisor wrote recently that those kinds of "unforeseen expenses can cost thousands of dollars and could cause you to lose your house, or worse, push you toward bankruptcy." He points out that a house is clearly a financial asset, but it is at the very same time an expense.

He advises homeowners facing divorce to try to separate their decision about keeping a house from their emotions. Factor in fixed costs (mortgage, property tax) with unanticipated expenses when making your calculations.

He also advises against the urge to simply divide all assets down the middle. He wrote that "this type of thinking may put you at the short end of the stick." Some people might look at a house valued at $200,000 and a pension valued at the same amount and think they are of equal value.

He says it makes sense to discuss the tax ramifications of both choices. A pension might be illiquid and a house transaction might have a large fee attached to it.

You can discuss these choices and many more with financial experts and with a family law attorney experienced in high-asset divorce litigation and negotiation.

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