Divorce Sucks Worse When The Economy's Down The Tubes

The New York Times' John Leland wades into the murky waters of love (and hate) in a time of crisis — the people who own real estate with their preferred ex-spouse and can't get out.

With nearly one in six homes worth less than the mortgage owed on it, according to Moody’s Economy.com, divorce lawyers and financial advisers around the country say the logistics of divorce have been turned around. “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.”

As a result, divorce has become more complicated and often more expensive, with lower prospects for money on the other side.

Of course, the more expensive the divorce gets ("$350 an hour, times two," says Leland), the better off the real sharks do as couples fight about the rapidly-diminishing equity and who gets what.

Other couples are keeping the house — and the shared living space — until market conditions improve and trying not to throw things when someone comes home with a date at night — Lisa Decker, a certified divorce financial analyst says of such situations, "'Unfortunately, we’re seeing ‘The War of the Roses’ for real, not just in a Hollywood movie.'" Other folks in the massive American divorce industry ("Helping you wreak revenge on your ex for no less than the cost of your kids' college funds") are seeing couples quit paying their mortgages while lenders are too fucked up to start another eviction, while still others are using the crisis to dick over their spouses worse, re-contemplate getting divorced at all, and magnify the power imbalances that probably contributed to the ends of their marriages in the first place. And then everyone ends up poorer than they thought or intended, which is sort of what is happening to everyone in this economy so I don't feel that much more sympathy, actually. I do, however, have Neil Sedaka in my head after reading the headline.

Breaking Up Is Harder to Do After Housing Fall [NY Times]