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I Want The House I Can't Afford - And Other Property Mistakes

When a marriage ends, there are many details to hammer out, and a large portion of them has to do with dividing property and other assets. Since the process of divorce not always described as pleasant, it only makes sense that many people want the process to be over as soon as possible. Like most things, when you rush the process too much, you might make mistakes or decisions regarding property division that are not in your best interest.

If you are going through a divorce, here are some common things you should think twice about before making your decisions regarding what to ask for and finalizing your divorce.

Your attachment to the house

It is easy to equate the house you have been raising your family in with home. If children are involved, many parents think that if one of the parents can keep the house then their children will be able to keep something familiar in their lives in the midst of all the changes in their lives. There is nothing wrong with this belief - most people would share it with you.

The problem is, houses are expensive to maintain, and it is possible that one person will not be able to handle the responsibility alone. If this is the case, you may want to consider whether a fresh start, slightly downsized, might be better for everyone concerned. If you keep the house, it may be necessary to ask for additional support in maintaining it, at least temporarily.

Making trade-offs

Compromise is part of the negotiating process, but too many people think only of how they are going to get through the first couple transitional years, and don't think long term. Signing away rights to retirement income is common, especially when a person really needs money in the moment.

It is important to look at both current finances and the future in order to make sure you are asking for what you need.

Acting out of emotion

Divorce is an emotional process that can bring on a combination of anger, guilt, sadness, fatigue, and more. If the divorce is triggered by a highly charged event, such as infidelity or abuse, the person who feels they have been wronged may try too hard to get more from their spouse not because they need it, or because it is fair, but simply to get them back for making them suffer. This type of thinking almost always invites push back, which means higher legal bills, a longer process and more stress for both spouses and their families.

Emotional decisions aren't necessarily based on revenge. They can be based on guilt too, or just general disappointment in the situation. If you feel too bad about the breakup of the marriage, you might fail to properly advocate for yourself and can wind up shortchanging yourself when it comes to what you need.

Not looking at financial realities, post divorce

In a divorce settlement, not all money is created equally. Depending on each person's financial situation, being able to claim a "Head of Household" designation may be more valuable to one spouse than the other. It is also important to note that child support income is not taxable, but alimony income is. If you look at all these factors carefully, it is often possible to find solutions that are financially beneficial for both you and your spouse.

Buying and selling property, and keeping up with it has a lot of hidden expenses. Sometimes people fail to see these during the divorce process, and they pay for it later. Take time to talk to someone about your financial future and your options before you sign the papers.

The Law Offices of James V. Sansone in Santa Rosa, California uses a combination of compassion and knowledge to help clients work toward the best post divorce solutions for themselves and their families. Visit our property division page to learn more.

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