Breaking Up Is Hard To Do: Are You Splitting Assets Or Debt?

BOSTON (CBS) – Any time there is money involved people behave poorly! I have never met a non-warring couple when it comes to a divorce.

The only people who gain in a nasty divorce are the lawyers. Try being civil and working it out.

With some divorces the couple is splitting up debt, with others there could be a sizable chunk of assets to divide. The divorce should be fair and equitable and you may very well start out thinking it will be; but then things change as each party decides what’s important and what’s fair and equitable.

List all of your debt. Whose debt is it? If you brought debt into the marriage and you still have school loans at the time of your divorce they are yours and not communal debt.

List all of your assets. It’s important to have a value next to everything on the list. Now what did each of you bring into the marriage? Antiques from your grandmother’s house? Those should not be community property.

Now what appears to be equal may very well not be. For example, on the asset list is the house; worth $300,000 with a $200,000 mortgage. So the net value is $100,000. Further down the list are the retirement plans worth $100,000. Same dollar amount and at first glance equal. Which one should you take? Or should you split them.

The custodial parent usually wants to keep the family home. The house in order to retain its value will need to be maintained. And the mortgage, insurance, and taxes will need to be paid.

If you need to rely on the child support to make the mortgage payments each month keeping the house is not a good idea.

As painful as it may be it is better to split the assets, sell the house and use the proceeds to buy a new place and take one half of the retirement money. You need to be careful with retirement assets; not all of them can be divided. Another note of concern is tax ramifications of an asset received in a settlement.

One more thing: A good book to help is “The Wiser Divorce Positive Solutions for Your Next Best Life” by Angie Hallier

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You can hear Dee Lee’s expert financial advice on WBZ NewsRadio 1030 each weekday at 1:55 p.m., 3:55 p.m., and 7:55 p.m.

Subscribe to Dee’s Money Matters newsletter here.

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