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The depressed real estate housing market is magnifying that tension. “In an average divorce, the biggest asset is the home,” says Evan Sussman, a divorce attorney in Beverly Hills, Calif. “People have lost value on their homes, and they are unable to sell. The equity they had in the home is down.”

In fact, nearly 40% of couples considering a divorce have postponed plans to split because of the economy, according to a recent survey of more than 1,000 couples by the National Marriage Project at the University of Virginia. The study also found that 12% of couples have had trouble paying a mortgage or experienced foreclosure.

Couples who are moving forward with a divorce this year in spite of market obstacles face tough choices: Keep the house and wait to sell until the market is better? Live together in the meantime? Sell now no matter what? When it comes to the house, arriving at a fair solution requires balancing financial decisions and weighing emotional pros and cons.

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