Being Emotionally Attached to Assets in a Divorce

The family home, pension, a painting purchased together during the happier time of the now failed marriage - these assets often trigger emotional arguments when spouses carve up the marital pie in a divorce. Emotions impair good judgment when it comes to dividing marital assets.

In the emotion turmoil of a divorce, the family home becomes a metaphor of marriage that failed. Possessions of the house take on a symbolic dimension. A spouse fights to keep the marital home even though he or she cannot afford it.

In negotiating for the marital residence, a person should think house, not home. The housing crash demonstrated that houses have a very low return on investment (they just keep up with inflation) and, in some cases, a negative return. Many houses today remain underwater, and in some places, couples have abandoned them and lost the money they invested. Moreover, a house is a barren asset: it pays nothing until is sold. In addition, a house is a money pit where mortgage payments, property taxes, repairs, and utilities are a constant drain.

In settlement negotiations, a party should remain focused on maximizing his or her finances for living after the divorce and in retirement, this mean letting go of emotional attachments. That pension may have one name it, but the portion earned during the marriage is marital and subject to distribution. That painting from happier times may have to be traded off for something else.



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Suggested Reading
Divorce & Money: How to Make the Best Financial Decisions
This book is a practical guide to evaluating assets during divorce. It explains how to determine the real value of marital property including houses, businesses, retirement plans and investments and how to negotiate a settlement that is fair to both sides.

Authors: Violet Woodhouse & Dale Fetherling


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