The most current data suggest that divorce rates are approaching 50%. The reality is, many Americans find themselves going through a divorce at least once in their life.
If you have been married for any length of time and have acquired assets such as a home, joint retirement accounts, life insurance policies that have a cash value, savings accounts, or other assets then splitting them equitably can be an exercise in emotion and stress.
Divorce is highly charged and stressful as it is. Adding in discussions about money and assets can be like pouring gasoline on a fire. If you are currently going through a divorce or are considering it, then this article will help you understand how to find a real estate agent (and other professionals) who specialize in divorce to help you navigate this path with empathy and understanding for both parties.
Why Choose an Agent Who Specializes in Divorce?
The question you may be asking yourself is, “Why shouldn’t I just hire any old real estate agent to sell my home for me?” That’s a legitimate question that we are going to attempt to answer. The fact is, you can hire whomever you want. BUT…divorce real estate has its own quirks and issues to contend with and an inexperienced agent very well may miss some of those items such as tax issues a divorce could create, for example.
In order to protect you and your former partner, there are a number of things you should consider when hiring a real estate agent to help you divest your assets when divorcing. Let’s cover them in turn here…
Are They Designated as a Realtor Specializing in Divorce?
Did you know that divorce real estate has its own designations? It’s true. Agents specializing in divorce can become designated as such so the public knows that the agent they have chosen has gone through rigorous training and education that is required to become designated.
One such designation is the Certified Divorce Real Estate Expert. The main purpose of designations such as these is simply to ensure you that the agent you are considering has demonstrated at least a minimal level of training and competence in the area of divorce real estate.
This doesn’t necessarily mean they are a good agent, but it is a good start when you begin your search.
Do They Have a Team of Related Specialists at the Ready?
Similarly, does the agent you are considering have a trusted a team of professionals that they can bring to the table to help solve problems and keep things moving forward?
Some of these problems may be tax related, financial planning related, or a question for an attorney. A top notch real estate agent will have already vetted these professionals for you and will know exactly whom to bring in and when.
Financial advisors, CPAs, attorneys, even mediators and social workers can all be part of this A-team. That doesn’t mean you will need every one of their services, but it is nice to know they are there in case you do. Plus, you don’t have to go out and find them yourself; your agent will have already done the heavy lifting for you.
Are They a Neutral Third-Party?
When you are getting ready to sell your home or divest other assets during your divorce it is tempting to simply find someone you already know to help you. Let’s face it, we all know a real estate agent who is a family member, friend, or associate…finding an agent isn’t necessarily the problem.
The problem is finding an agent who will be a true independent third-party who has no emotional tie to either of you. If you hire a family member to represent you then will your partner feel like you are giving him or her an unbiased representative that has his/her interests at heart?
Or if your former partner wants to hire a friend to sell your property, are you going to be constantly wondering if that person is looking out for you or just your partner?
Do Both Parties Trust Them?
In the same vein, you both need to trust the agent that you ultimately decide to hire. Each of you should interview the prospective agent individually and together to get a feel for their personality, check for any real or perceived biases, and in general just make sure this is a party you would trust to represent both your interests fairly and independently.
There are a lot of emotions you are feeling and going through right now. You may be hurting and frustrated. This is going to bleed over into other areas of your life, including your other relationships. This is natural. The last thing you need, however, is to bring in an agent that you don’t trust. With everything else going on in your life right now, trusting your agent to represent you with empathy and fairness shouldn’t be something you are thinking about constantly.
So, take your time, find someone that you trust and that your former partner trusts.
Can They Help Mediate Disputes Fairly?
Our last bit of advice is to make sure whomever you hire is equipped to handle inevitable disputes fairly and with empathy.
You are going to disagree about things with your former partner. We can all agree that that is a given. This is another reason to find an agent who is an independent, neutral third-party without personal ties to either of you.
The Idaho Divorce team will be able to approach these disagreements with fairness and compassion, but also with a detachment that keeps emotions in check. Emotions will sometimes run high leading you or your partner to perhaps make poor decisions, based on that emotion.
An independent, neutral agent can bring back the cool hand of common sense to these flare ups, keeping things moving forward in a civil and expedient manner.
Going through a divorce with someone you once (and maybe still do) loved can be an excruciating and painful time in your life. By hiring a real estate agent specializing in divorce you can at least take the emotion and potential for turmoil out of the equation to an extent.
If you are going through a divorce or are planning on doing so and would like a free consultation on how to move forward with regards to divesting your assets, we would love to chat. Please visit us at IdahoDivorceTeam.com to schedule your free consult and see what our team can do for you.