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Property division complicated by division of debt

California couples who are entering the divorce process often feel overwhelmed by the sheer volume of decisions that must be made. It can be easy to focus on negotiations over issues that seem of vital importance now, but are in fact minor in relative terms. One issue that should be given the utmost priority is property division.

In recent years, property division has become much more complicated than in decades past. The process used to entail a careful division of assets such as real property, investments and retirement accounts. In today's economic climate, however, property division often means a division of debt.

More and more couples carry high debt loads, often held on multiple credit cards. One financial advisor has worked with couples that have as many as 10 or 12 open credit card accounts, with balances riding on extremely high credit rates. In many cases, the first step in property division is a conscientious attempt at debt reduction.

Another common concern involves negotiating which party will retain the family home. It is important that the spouse who will stay in the home is able to refinance the property in his or her own name. This allows the other party to walk away from the property free from any financial obligation, and able to purchase another home in the future.

These and other financial issues illustrate the significance of the property division decisions made during a California divorce. The best approach is one that is geared toward allowing both parties to walk away as financially secure as possible, and equipped to move forward in their new lives with a degree of financial security. In many cases, that involves working together one last time to reduce debt and carefully divide the remaining assets.

Source: GoErie.com, "Hard times make divorce tougher," Tim Grant, Nov. 28, 2012

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