Divorce. What a nasty word.
With it comes all the horror stories one can imagine. While I haven’t gone through it personally, I know of relatives, friends and clients who have. Some say its the closest thing to death as anything they have experienced in life. While friends and family are not directly involved, they all feel a measure of hurt felt by both parties for a very long time. Many of these couples own real estate. Add to the mix the children, possessions and the problems begin to take on greater proportions.
However, in spite of this extremely difficult period, there are important, life-altering decisions that need to be made, and if done properly and timely, can soften the blow; preserve intangibles like emotion and feelings and tangibles like real property and financial resources.
Now I am not expressing an opinion on whether couples who marry should stay together or split. That choice is theirs alone. What I want to highlight is 5 Proven Win-Win Strategies for Divorcing Couples Who Own Real Estate.
Know Your Enemy
Many remember Pogo, a comic strip character of cartoonist Walt Kelly. A famous comment made by Pogo was “We have met the enemy and he is us.” It was Walt Kelly’s attempt at describing the failings of humans. Yes, its true, sometimes we are our own worst enemy. An example are decisions made that cause the divorce and the resulting activity during and following the divorce that often puts couples in a worse situation that expected or desired.
A recent report from the CDC on marriage and divorce concludes from data compiled from 44 states and the District of Columbia reporting–about half of marriages end up in divorce. That number is substantial. What do you read into that statement? Good? Bad? What I read is opportunity, and I will explain as we move further along.
Get The Facts Before You Decide
Both parties need to separate fact from fiction. Based on my experience, I want to emphasize that this list is not all-inclusive, but represents a few very important matters to consider that affect whether the divorce can be a Win-Win or Loose-Loose proposition:
- If both parties sign for the mortgage, how does one party get out from the debt: Is a Quit Claim deed the answer or otherwise?
- If the court orders one party to pay the mortgage, what problems could arise and how might the resident party be affected?
- What options are available if only one party wants to sell the property?
- Who is responsible for property repairs in a court ordered settlement?
- Do I get to keep property I owned before the marriage?
The Team Approach
I highly recommend using the Team Approach for both parties. While it might seem to complicate matters, actually the reverse is true if experienced and competent professionals are selected. Besides your attorney, members of your team might include the following:
- Certified Real Estate Divorce Specialist
- Mortgage lender
- Financial planner
- Tax specialist
- Counselor or therapist
Be sure to take the time to check their experience level and background. A combination of skills is acceptable as well. And referrals and recommendations might come from family and friends believe it or not.
Strictly Business: Remove Emotion From The Mix
When emotions are at the boiling point and hurtful words (and often physical objects) are flying, it might seem impossible to get parties to calm down and reason on matters. However, at this time over any other time, both need to keep their heads on straight. It is the time to get factual information on decisions they make going forward. I’m not talking about talking to your friends at work or family members who often take sides and haven’t a clue about how you need to run your own affairs. This is where you benefit from your team the most. Trust them. Use them.
Why Work with A Certified Real Estate Divorce Specialist?
A recent report on RealEstate.com says that homeowners are typically married couples, but that trend is changing. Homeownerhip among singles is increasing. What does this mean? People are home owners whether single or divorced. Everyone needs a place to live. So here is the opportunity I spoke of earlier.
A Certified Real Estate Specialist, a recognized professional, is one who has an in-depth understanding of how divorce, real property and emotional factors all come together. They are typically not lawyers, but are trained on many aspects of divorce law, and recognize their legal limitations. They understand how to work with members of your team and act as advisers to help smooth out the bumps during the divorce process. One example of their expertise is the information mentioned in this blog: 5 Proven Win-Win Strategies for Divorcing Couples Who Own Real Estate. If they are a Realtor® even better. The knowledge a Realtor® brings to the table is invaluable in guiding you in making good financial decisions about real estate, which often is the largest asset owned.
Divorce is not easy. I get that. But you can get through it.