Breaking up is hard to do financially

ByABC News
September 28, 2007, 4:35 AM

— -- Going through a divorce can make you an emotional wreck. But you don't have to be a complete financial wreck as well.

Sure, it can be hard to think about money when you're mourning the loss of a personal relationship.

But forging a clean break financially and personally will make it easier to move on with your life.

One of the worst mistakes that divorcing couples make, financial experts say, is to drag out the process in hopes of securing more money, and sometimes causing more pain to the other person.

In the end, such sparring can serve only to whittle down the amount of money you have to split.

Couples "waste money because they declare war," says Ginita Wall, a certified public accountant in San Diego who specializes in divorce. "Their kids go to community college, and their attorneys' kids go to Harvard."

Divorce is a time to take stock of your assets and debt. The longer you and your spouse have been together, the more intertwined, and complicated, your financial ties probably are. Multiple bank accounts. Credit card accounts. Mortgages. Auto loans.

How to unravel them? Carefully.

Here are five common mistakes couples make when they separate their finances and tips on how to avoid them:

1: Hanging onto the house at all costs.

Many divorcing couples want to keep the house, rather than sell it, so the kids won't have to change schools or upend their weekly routines. But Lynnette Khalfani Cox, who writes financial books and hosts seminars on money topics, says many couples tend to fight over the house without giving enough thought to whether the person who gets it can afford the mortgage, upkeep and property taxes.

In a divorce settlement, you could ask for a certain amount of spousal support to help defray the monthly mortgage payments. But that won't cover unexpected repairs to the home.

"For many people, women in particular, the house represents financial stability and emotional attachment, but it can be a huge economic noose around their neck," Khalfani Cox says.