Getting a divorce? Get the house inspected!

One of the biggest assets many people have to divide during their divorce is the equity in their home -- which can be a problem when opinions differ on the home's true value and the most recent evaluation was done years before at its purchase.

An impartial inspection can help bring any hidden issues to light and resolve disputes over a home's real worth before they get out of control. While an appraisal gives you the home's dollar value if it were sold today, the home inspection can give you a list of problems that are about to emerge -- which may substantially factor into the final estimate of the home's value and affect the way the marital assets are ultimately divided.

For example, imagine that a home is valued at $300,000 today -- were it to be put up for sale. However, a home inspection reveals that the roof is nearing the end of its life, an outdated heating system that badly needs replaced and a host of other small repairs that are needed. They may be the sort of ordinary maintenance issues that sometimes get overlooked when lives are busy or other expenses are in the way. All together, it's estimated that about $50,000 in work either needs to be done to the property right away or will need to be done in the near future.

That $50,000 figure is important. It's a liability that should be considered before either member of a couple decide to keep the home. It's also a figure that could be used to negotiate a slightly different settlement when the liquid assets are divided. For example, perhaps one spouse wants to keep the house, but asks for a little more out of the savings account to offset the repairs that are needed.

Having that inspection report in hand when you walk into negotiations over the division of your marital property can help keep your negotiations smooth. It can also prevent you from making some big mistakes that could affect you far into the future.

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