Determine whether to fight to keep the marital home

When you find yourself in the throes of divorce -- either willingly or unwillingly -- there are many decisions you will have to make, both now and in the future.

Other than settling the custody matters for any children you share with your soon-to-be-ex, perhaps the second most important matter to settle is where you will live after the divorce.

Some people instinctively want to fight to retain the marital home. This is not necessarily the most prudent decision, however. It might ultimately be the right decision for you, but it is one that should be determined by the head and not the heart.

For one thing, you may not be able to afford to keep your home after your divorce. Remember that you will be living on a single salary. Yes, any child or spousal support you receive can go toward the mortgage and other expenses. However, that still might not be enough when you consider the property taxes here in Orange County.

Another thing to consider is your age. A divorced person nearing retirement might be ready to find something smaller, cheaper and cozier. The upkeep on the family home may become daunting to those who are nearing retirement age -- or beyond.

Younger divorced individuals might not want to carry around all the "baggage" inherent in the family home. Especially if they hope to build a life with a new partner, starting over in a new place may be best for the relationship.

On the other hand, those with minor children living at home might opt to fight for the marital home in order to minimize the trauma of the divorce. Kids are destabilized by too many rapid changes, but also have a reservoir of resilience they can draw on to tackle new situations.

If you're unsure whether to seek the home in your property settlement, ask your Orange County family law attorney to play devil's advocate and help you sort out your priorities before negotiating any settlement terms.

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