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Why looking at your divorce settlement as a whole is essential

Many of the decisions you make during your divorce will have serious long-term impacts. However, you have to make those decisions amid emotional turmoil that prevents you from thinking as clearly as you should. That's one reason why an experienced family law attorney can be essential to helping you think through these decisions carefully and making the best ones for yourself and your children.

Unfortunately, attorneys can't always prevent their clients from making poor decisions if they're determined to do so. Following are a few things that many people wish they had done differently when the dust of their divorce settled.

First, look at the settlement as a whole rather than focusing on "winning" on every issue. Consider the tax ramifications, for example, of getting more alimony rather than higher child support payments. Look at the long and short-term financial implications of the agreement as a whole.

Long-term implications should be a consideration with every decision you make. For example, some people prefer to pay their spousal support in one lump-sum payment and get it over with. However, the tax deductibility of such a payment could be considerably less than if you make regular payments over period of time.

Consider the "real cost" of everything you're seeking. For example, with property, you'll likely have fees involved when you eventually sell it as well as expenses like capital gains taxes. Determine whether it's worth it for you to keep all or part of each marital asset.

We've talked about this one before, but it's a mistake that many people make, often for emotional reasons: keeping the family residence. Sure, it may be where your kids grew up, you have lots of fond memories associated with it and you can't bear to think of your ex's new girlfriend or boyfriend there. However, can you really afford to keep and maintain it? Too many people fight over a house only to have to sell it later because it's simply beyond their means as a single person.

Finally, don't make your decisions out of feelings of anger for your ex. That's another reason why it's essential to have the advice of legal and financial professionals who can think more clearly about what's going to be best for you.

Source: Forbes, "The 5 Biggest Divorce Mistakes," Larry Light, July 16, 2015

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Commandments of Family Law

  1. The only truth your children need to know is that you both love them unconditionally, and that this isn't their fault.
  2. Take the high road — everyone wins when you do what's best for your kids.
  3. Negotiate but don't capitulate — if you are being pushed toward something detrimental for your children, stand your ground.
  4. You can only control yourself and how you respond. Don't engage.
  5. Do set up rules and responsibilities. Kids feel better when routine is continued.
  6. You are still their parent — don't be afraid to be one.
  7. Disneyland is in California, not in your home. Don't set up unreasonable expectations.
  8. It is not their job to take care of you. Repeat that to them. Often.
  9. Yelling is for sports — not court. Good lawyers strongly advocate without being disrespectful to opposing parties.
  10. Fair is a place you go to get cheese curds. Aside from that, nothing in life is fair.

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