Should you sell your family home? The place where you and your partner invested your lives; where your children grew up and experienced their important milestones; where you laughed, loved, struggled, and quarreled over the years?

This is one of the most wrenching and important decisions that a divorcing couple must make. Since that home is probably the most valuable asset you own, the financial consequences are huge — but, of course, so are the emotional implications.

That’s why it’s so important to carefully think through all of the issues involved. The expert advice of competent professionals will be indispensable in this process. Attorneys, financial counselors, therapists, realtors — all can provide essential counsel that will help your planning.

Engaging a number of advisors at this point may seem expensive, but considering the stakes, it could turn out to be a bargain. You are also gaining critical insights from reading this information. It incorporates the views of experts from several disciplines and may expose you to valuable information you wouldn’t have considered otherwise. Do yourself a favor and hold off on making any permanent decisions until you study the various factors that can influence your decisions.

The decision you’re facing may be difficult, but it’s not complicated. In the final analysis, you really only have three options:

1. Keep the house and leave the title and mortgage as they are.

2. Transfer the title and mortgage to one partner.

3. Sell the house.

Each of these choices may be attractive for different reasons, but they may not all be feasible. First question you must ask is: Can either party a afford to keep the house under any scenario? Answering that will require a hard look at the numbers. If the answer is no, your decision is clear: You must sell.

Remember, you’re now going to be supporting two households with the same income that previously supported one. Will that really be enough to sustain the current home plus another one? Many families are stretched to the limit trying to make their existing house payments. Adding another payment — even a modest one — is out of the question. If that is your situation, you’ll be better off coming to grips with reality early on. Often you can begin strategizing to make your transition as orderly and pain-free as possible.

Of course, things are not always black-and-white. You may be uncertain about the future, but optimistic. Getting through your ordeal to this point has probably required a lot of positive thinking, and you may feel inspired to take on another challenge. You tell yourself, I think I can make it work! That’s a good attitude, but it must be balanced by reality. Explore things to consider as you envision your future.

Excerpt from The House Matters In Divorce: Untangling the Legal, Financial and Emotional Ties Before You Sign on the Dotted Line by Laurel Starks. Unhooked Books.