Take My House – Please!
Could the housing crash help keep couples together?
My friend Jed* was ahead of the curve. Two years ago when I ran into him and he told me his marriage was crumbling, he shook his head and added, “Our mediator says we’re too poor to break up.”
As his wife was already dating other people, this was not really advice he could follow. Looking back, he was lucky – at least they didn’t own any property together.
Traditionally, the house/apartment was a bone of contention in divorce. But it used to be that both parties wanted it. With a popped housing bubble and foreclosures more common than weed-wackers in the suburbs, these days divorcing couples are more likely to try and fob the house off on each other.
According to a recent New York Times story, “We used to fight about who gets to keep the house,” said Gary Nickelson, president of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers. “Now we fight about who gets stuck with the dead cow.”
Couples are finding that neither party can afford the home on their own and prices have dropped so precipitously (not to mention the fact that nobody’s buying) that they’re being forced to live together, not for the kids, but for the real estate.
But with all this bad news, comes the possibility that maybe this will make people seek marriage counseling instead of divorce attorneys. The Times story talked to one woman who said that if she’d known how little money she’d be walking away with, “maybe it would’ve made me think a little harder” before filing for divorce.