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Memories in the family home might stall divorce talks

Real estate can be a stumbling block for many divorcing Atlanta couples. For some, a house may represent a joint creative effort, the culmination of years of planning and saving. With so much work invested in a home, such individuals may be reluctant to part with it.

A family home is also witness to many powerful memories. Parents, in particular, may strongly associate certain rooms with events in their children's lives, as they grew up. These emotional connections to a home can make discussing the division of real estate very difficult.

Yet the economic reality is that dual income couples may no longer be able to afford the expense of a home on a single salary. Mortgage payments, utility bills, and property taxes may exceed a single individual's budget. Options offered in a thriving economy may also be unavailable. For example, refinancing often depends upon homeowners having sufficient equity in a house, compared to its fair market value. Yet in a sluggish residential real estate market, fewer real estate owners may qualify under their lender's loan-to-value ratio.

Divorcing couples caught in this dilemma might benefit from the counsel of a divorce attorney. An attorney may have additional insights -- and cautionary advice -- to share. For example, if a divorcing couple's finances require them to sell their home, it may be best not to advertise that fact to prospective buyers. Another option might be for couples to rent out their home, or part of it, until the market improves. In a worst case scenario, couples might even agree to sell their home at a loss, and to share that loss, in order to be free of any future financial burden.

Source: New York Times, "After the Breakup, They Help Sell the House," Elizabeth A. Harris, April 1, 2013

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