Monday, April 7, 2008

Married To Your Home

Divorce in the current housing market can turn the American Dream into a nightmare when couples are forced to live together long enough to sell the last thing they have in common.

by Broderick Perkins
© 2008 DeadlineNews.Com

Deadline Newsroom - For better or for worse?

In sickness and in health?

For richer or for poor?

How about for boom or for bust?

The housing market is forcing some divorced couples to live up to their wedding vows in a way they never could have imagined.

After a bitter breakup, when the only thing the ex-es have in common is the roof over their heads, parting can indeed become such sweet, sweet sorrow.

It's a lot like being trapped in a twisted, modern-day Shakespearean tragedy.

Some divorced couples, already drained by costs associated with ending a marriage, face the possibility of living together -- if only long enough to squeeze the most from their largest shared asset.

Blame the new phenomenon on the struggling housing market, says Janell Weinstein, a partner in the law firm of Federbusch & Weinstein, in Hackensack, NJ.

Weinsten says cohabitation after divorce may be a last resort for some, but for those facing soaring energy prices, higher food costs, the potential for pink slips and the ongoing need for child care, it could be their only option.

Shared shelter is perhaps one of the few areas where an embattled pair can find respite from financial woes, if only temporarily.

In the fourth quarter, 2007, the percentage of equity Americans had in their homes was down to 47.9 percent from the peak of nearly 60 percent at the end of 1999, according to the Federal Flow of Funds, but that's still a chunk of change -- nearly $240,000 tax free on a $500,000 home. Depending upon the age group, the home accounts for 20 to 60 percent of households' net worth.

Weinstein recently examined the phenomenon of cohabitation after divorce for, a Web site devoted to empowering female divorcees.

She says, in most cases, shacking up with the ex is housing of last resort. Two estranged people living under the same roof can lead to domestic disturbance over everything from overnight dates to the selling price necessary to move the home off the market.

And it can go on for weeks, months.

However, says Weinstein, while it may be impossible for you to imagine living with your spouse after you are divorced, it's a potential outcome you must consider in today's housing market.

© 2008 DeadlineNews.Com

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Broderick Perkins, an award-winning consumer journalist of 30 years, is publisher and executive editor of San Jose, CA-based DeadlineNews.Com, a real estate news and consulting service, and the new Deadline Newsroom, DeadlineNews.Com's new backshop. In both cases, it's where all the news really hits home.

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