Divorce and Real Estate – Don’t be Dumb!
Let me start by saying, I am not an attorney, nor do I pretend to be one, but I do know a thing about divorce, real estate and being dumb. I am a real estate expert and I spent years wading through my own messy divorce and the aftermath, so I’d like to pass on a thing or two that I learned in the process. Take or leave my advice, there are a few things I wish someone would have told me, now I am telling you.
- First things first, get a good lawyer. Seems obvious right? I am not sure we are on the same page yet. When I say get a good lawyer, I don’t mean the pit bull who will take your ex for all they are worth, or the lawyer who will stroke your hair while you sob. Get yourself a fair minded, reasonable attorney who will give you logical advice. Ask around, read online reviews. The attorney on the other side of my situation was mean as a snake, continually (to this day) assonates my character and drug our case to the bitter end, causing us both to waste tens of thousands of dollars to get to the logical outcome we expected in the first place. When I looked at his online reviews, they were very poor and reflected the experiences I had. (and no, I didn’t review him online, although I was tempted) Had my ex taken the time to research this man, he would have seen that he has twice been put on probation by the state bar in the last few years for unethical behavior, and hopefully chosen more carefully. The attorneys you both choose will determine the ease of your settlement, choose the logical, fair attorney, not the one who just wants to ring the cash register fighting with the other side.
- Next, make smart choices not emotional ones.
One piece of advice I received from my attorney was this…
If you are the one moving out of the family home, take half of the stuff, don’t leave it so that the kids will be more comfortable, they need to be comfortable at your house too.
This was great advice. The kids, if you have them, need some familiarity at both houses. In the same vein, lets talk property. In my case, though I liked the home we bought when married, my ex was adamant that he keep the home, and frankly, I could not have afforded it as a single parent, so I agreed. Now its all well and good up to here, this is the point I went wrong. Don’t be like me, do not do this. I agreed to allow my ex two and a half years to refi the house and get my name off of it. Why so long? No reason really, that’s what he wanted, I was exhausted and tired of fighting so I agreed. Dumb. So dumb. Guess what? Two and a half years later, he did not hold up his end of the deal. The house has not been refinanced. That means, my credit is at his mercy. It also means that I can not qualify to purchase a car, my own home (there are a few lenders who can help somewhat with options here) or get personal credit regardless of my good credit score. My name on the house means my debt to income ratio is seriously out of wack. Doesn’t he have to comply? Eh. Didn’t we make this deal legally and through the court system? Yep. So now what? Well, I hire an attorney, get a hearing with a judge (which takes months), spend thousands more to get him to comply with a deal he is already legally obligated to comply with. Is it fair? No. Is it just the way it is? Yes, and its not worth ranting over, instead just avoid the mistake.
- Lets avoid any dumb real estate moves that also impact you for years after your divorce is final. You do have some other options here. One would be to sell the house, I am sure it’s not popular but neither is divorce. In my case the house would have been underwater and a short sale may have been the remedy. There is an obvious credit impact, though it would have been about a 2 year impact, which would have been shorter than what I agreed to and I would have been done with it. Another option is to allow a much shorter window. You may land back in court forcing compliance, but at least the time your credit is held up in a hostage situation is much shorter. My best advice is to make it a clean break. I know that the number one issue most parents struggle with is the kids and the impact the divorce has on them. In my own experience, moving was not traumatic for them, and though I am not a psychologist, I think getting everything over and done with on the front end would have been better for them all around. Their parents heading back to court, though we try very hard to shield them from it, is not awesome.
- My last piece of advice, take the high road. You never regret speaking respectfully about your ex to your children and they will always be grateful for it. No matter how much of a stinker that other person is, don’t trash them publicly, it will never reflect well on you. Someone once recommended a journal to me, for every single angry thing I wanted to say to and about the other person. Write it all down, as venomous as you need to be and then toss it, burn it, whatever.
Bottom line, divorce is rough stuff no matter how you slice it, but making fewer emotional choices and more logical ones, will save you some heartburn in the end. For more information about me and Caily Sells AZ, please vist my website!