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The danger of being too 'nice' during a divorce

A lot of divorcing couples pride themselves in the fact that they are divorcing amicably. Ex-couples who have gotten past their anger and regret can be successful in securing swift and fair divorce settlements. But there's a difference in truly understanding the financial consequences and naively compromising on important issues.

Some attorneys say that trying to remain friendly during the divorce process can actually lead to financial mistakes by one or both parties. Even if a couple is civil, it doesn't mean that they are each intending to protect the other's interests. Here are a few key mistakes that should be avoided.

• Not getting professional help. Divorcing couples who think they can come up with a fair settlement by themselves may be unrealistic. Finding the right attorney to act as a third party to make sure things are divided fairly can be extremely helpful.

• Keeping the house in lieu of cash or liquid assets. Sometimes a wife or husband will agree to keep a family residence without realizing how expensive it can be. Sometimes they later realize they can no longer afford the house, and by agreeing to stay in the home they have sacrificed other assets that could have helped their finances in the future.

• Failing to come to an understanding on all finances. There's a lot to consider after a divorce. If an ex-couple shares joint custody of the children and they file taxes separately, who gets to deduct the children?

Generally, a lot of these things come up because one spouse doesn't want to "rock the boat" in the middle of an amicable divorce. But it's also important to speak up about concerns to avoid financial pitfalls.

Source: Reuters, "Divorce mistakes you can make by being too nice," Geoff Williams, June 26, 2012

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