It is easy to focus on just one piece of the puzzle, such as who will get the house or who will have to pay a particular bill. Don’t do this. It is important to look at the entire picture. It may be better to let your spouse have the house if you really will not be able to afford to stay there. Even if you want to keep the house for the sake of your children, you don’t want them to feel the stress of your struggles to maintain it for the next several years.
Pitfalls to Avoid When Splitting Assets in a Divorce
Sometimes it is difficult to make a “business decision” due to the emotion of the situation. That is why it is important to work closely with your attorney and listen to his/her suggestions. Putting things on paper where you can see them may help. You and your attorney may decide to put together an inventory to show assets and liabilities of the marriage, and a proposal showing which spouse should receive each asset or debt.
There may be a temptation to focus on cash flow in the short term and being unrealistic about long term possibilities. It may be tempting to use account funds or home equity to pay off bills immediately for the feeling of a fresh start, but that may not make the best financial sense. You might be tempted to consider paying more child support or debts that you will realistically be able to afford, just to “get it over with”. But decisions made in haste or desperation are often the worst ones, and you could end up mentally kicking yourself for years.
While being too lenient is not a good idea, neither is being too tough. If you find yourself getting so caught up in the battle that you are determined to win at all costs you need to stop. Ask yourself whether your stance is costing you more in attorney’s fees and time than you are likely to gain, or whether your determination is hurting your children emotionally or harming your health.
During a divorce, schedules are disrupted and emotions run high. It is more important than ever to take good care of yourself physically. If that seems like impossibility, even a ten-minute break everyday where you clear your mind or do something you really enjoy can be helpful. Consider the time spent taking care of your health as an investment in your future happiness. A good working relationship with your lawyer is necessary and can help you keep things in perspective. Having a support system of friends and family that will allow you to vent when necessary will also help keep you on track.
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