We sometimes say the legal fees in a divorce are as much as a new car. But whether you buy a Volkswagon or a Mercedes depends on whether you and your spouse can cooperate or have to fight about who gets what.

As if that weren’t bad enough, along comes a troubled economy.

Slumping real estate prices are adding a new complication to dividing marital assets. The house is usually the largest asset in the divorce. Not so long ago, even couples in short marriages that bought a house together, could sell and divide hundreds of thousands of dollars in the affluent neighborhoods where we practice law.

Now, a sale can take months and people are delaying the sale of the marital residence for better times. Sometimes, they enter into joint ventures in their settlement agreements to own and manage the property after the divorce.