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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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Several Reasons For A Divorce And The High Demand Of Divorce Lawyers In Rural Areas

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No divorce process is completely stress free, but if you choose mediation to settle your case, you could save on time, stress, and money. While divorce mediation is not as common as traditional divorce litigation, there are many advantages to choosing divorce mediation that can benefit you, your spouse and your children.

What is mediation, and how is it different from typical divorce through the court system?

Mediation divorce is the most cost effective way to manage divorce proceedings. The divorcing couple meets with a mediator - a third-person party acts as a go-between to resolve difficult custody, property matters and financial matters. Through mediation, the couple has the opportunity to decide the final terms and outcomes of the divorce in a peaceful manner that benefits both parties. In many cases it's best to choose a mediator who has experience in family law and who can make sure that all legal issues are resolved, so an attorney who specializes in mediation is a logical choice.

Benefits of Divorce Mediation:
• Divorce mediation is significantly less expensive than going through a messy ugly hearing with a judge.
• It's allows you to work on your time schedule instead of being forced to work on the city's time with scheduled hearings.
• It's gives both parties more flexibility because you can honestly discuss the terms of your parenting plan to ensure that your children are well cared for.
• There is more humane and peaceful because the mediation sessions normally take place in a conference room instead of in a courtroom with multiple people around.
• Mediation is confidential and the discussions in divorce mediation do not become a part of public record.
• We helps couples develop a communication plan that enables you to effectively communicate with each other post-divorce if children are involved.

The most significant difference, however, is that mediated divorces are not subject to arbitration. You and your estranged spouse make the final agreement, and you are not bound by the word or a judge or similar arbiter. Mediation is the method that helps you to create the ideal post-divorce scenario for your family.

What is the difference in cost?

Traditional divorce proceedings involve litigation and court proceedings. Some more complex cases go to full trial. Traditional divorce takes longer, and it can be significantly more expensive. A straightforward mediation costs as low as $10,000 and can go up depending on your assets and the number of children involved. Meanwhile, traditional divorces, complete with court fees, retainers, motions, and discoveries, can cost as much as $40,000 for just basic litigation and uncontested rulings. For many couples, mediation is sufficient for the needs of the family. To understand how divorce mediation works and if this is a good fit for you and your spouse, call Peace-Talks Mediation at (310) 301-2100.

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