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In a Divorce, a Home Short Sale Can Be the Answer

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When homeowners are facing a divorce, one of the most difficult decisions is determining what to do with the house. Because this decision can be highly emotional, important factors can be overlooked and the final decision could be a major financial mistake for both parties.

Couples under the duress of ending a relationship need to step back and look at the true financial value of the house before making a decision. Divorce is scary, so fighting to hold onto the house may provide a level of comfort. But this may be short-lived once a newly single person is weighed down by the high cost of the house. The better choice might be to sell the house, even if you owe more than it is worth. A divorce situation opens the door to getting out from under a financially upside-down house and a potential foreclosure.

Divorcing homeowners need to realize how the tremendous decline in housing values has affected the value of their house. Even if they have owned the house for as long as seven years, they still may owe more than the house is worth. With housing values continuing to decline, it may not be worth fighting to keep a house and ending up with an asset that is worth less than you owe. A better alternative may be a short sale of the house.

Divorcing homeowners can determine if they should sell the house by:

• Checking its market value. A simple way to get a "general" idea of the market value is to check the county's appraised value. This can be done by visiting the county's Appraisal District website. A more accurate way is to have a local realtor assess the value of the house.

• Checking the principal balance of the mortgage. Most mortgage companies provide the principal balance on the monthly statement, or you can call the mortgage company and ask for the "principal balance."

If the principal balance is higher than the market value, a short sale may be the answer. Most mortgage companies recognize a divorce as a justifiable reason for a short sale.

In a short sale, the proceeds from the sale amount to less than the balance owed. The bank or lender agrees to discount a loan balance due to an economic or financial hardship caused by the divorce. This negotiation is done through communication with a bank's loss mitigation or short sale department by a professional company.

For the homeowner, advantages include getting out from under an upside-down house, avoiding a foreclosure on their credit history, and partial control of the monetary deficiency.

Other considerations for divorcing homeowners include:

• Most lenders require a licensed real estate agent to list the house and conduct the short sale. The agent should be experienced at short sales.

• You should never pay anything for a short sale. The real estate company is paid by your lender after the sale.

• Beware of fraud. Make sure any company you work with is legitimate, with a business address and website. If all you have is an individual's cell phone number, this is not a good sign. Also, the company should never ask for payment.

• When deciding if you should keep the house, determine the total costs. The mortgage payment may be the largest cost, but there are also insurance, taxes, utilities, and yard care. Maintenance is a major consideration, because some big items need to be replaced every 10 to 15 years, such as a roof, air conditioning system, water heater, and kitchen appliances.

A divorce is one of the hardest and most emotionally draining events in your life, and following it with a foreclosure will only make things worse. As difficult as it may be, this is the time to look past emotional bonds to the house and focus on the numbers.

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When you need to Protect your Children from a Parent after a Divorce

It can be difficult to decide to get a divorce when you are afraid of what will be going on with your children when they are out of your sight. Sometimes it is unfounded fear that has to do with control issues. Other times though it has to do with the history of the other parent that has lead up to the divorce.

If a parent has problems with alcohol or drug abuse the children may be in danger. There is enough evidence to suggest that the behaviors of such individuals are often unpredictable. A history of violent behavior is another reason to try to keep the children from being alone with that parent. Even if the children were never physically harmed, they may have witnessed such behavior or been emotionally abused.

Sexual abuse is a complaint that can come up as well. This is even harder to prove as many parents claim it as a ploy to prevent children from leaving. It has been proven false in enough cases to make judges weary. Yet sexual abuse on children at the hands of their own parents does happen. Make sure you follow the legal advice of your attorney if you have such claims to bring up in order to protect your children from further abuse.

It is very important that you have as much information documented as you can. While you don't necessary want to drag your spouse through the mud you have every right to protect your children. You may have documents on file with the local police department. Yet many people don't report such incidents and so they may not be there.

Document witnesses though that may have seen what was taking place. Neighbors may have seen arguments, friends may have seen bruises, and your doctor may have information on file as well. Keep in mind that the courts may view a great deal of the information like this you bring in as hearsay but do what you can to get them to see the relevance of it.

If nothing else they may order an evaluation of both parents. This way they can get an expert opinion about the mental well being of the individuals. These assessments are in place to look for patterns of behavior that may not be good for children to be exposed to. The court is often in a difficult position though. On one hand they don't want to prevent children from seeing a parent due to the stories of the other. However, they definitely don't want to place children into the hands of a person who is going to cause them harm.

The court may rule that there isn't enough evidence to prove the parent shouldn't be alone with the children. They may decide that parenting classes as well as anger management or drug/alcohol treatment must be completed before they can be alone with the children. The court also has the right to initiate only supervised visitations for that parent.

If you feel your children are in danger at the hands of the other parent though you need to speak up. We read too many cases these days of children being abused, neglected, and even killed at the hands of a parent. It is your right and your duty as their parent to do all you can to get the facts out there and to protect them from any such harm.

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Family Law Attorneys are standing by call 1-800-564-2707

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