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Does psychology matter when dividing property in divorce?

The process of dissolving a marriage can have a certain “checklist” feel to it. In Louisiana, the rule of family law is one of community property. What that means is that the spouses own assets, debts and property acquired during the marriage equally. That being so, the objective of the court is to see that property and debts are divided equally, either physically or by virtue of an equal division of money based on valuations. Obviously, this requires a certain level of business-like detachment.

As much as marriages are considered contracts under the law, emotions cannot be dismissed. Human psychology is such that emotions need to considered to so that individuals don’t act against their best interests and their rights are protected. To that end, consideration may have to be given to research suggesting that psychological differences between men and women may need to be balanced.

Child custody and support issues are certainly sensitive areas that need to be addressed, but property division carries its own challenges. For example, when a couple buys a car, the law may not declare that one or the other of the spouses holds the title. The same may go for the family home or other property. How will these items be divided? Is cash value enough? What about sentimental value?

This can present a unique dilemma for a couple going through divorce, but it may also provide a unique opportunity for the pair to save time and money by coming up with their own plans for how things are divided. According to some researchers out of Pennsylvania, the key to success may rest in understanding that men and women tend to handle negotiations differently.

These psychologists say men tend to approach the task as one with specific goals that need to be achieved. Women, on the other hand, often approach negotiating concerned about the effects it might have on their interpersonal relationships. That communal bent, they say, could make women more likely to give up monetary benefits they are entitled to. Additionally, they say men tend to be more willing to risk litigation than women, which might result in women accepting smaller settlements.

What becomes apparent is that there is real value in working with skilled counsel who can appreciate such psychological nuances.

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