The Housing Market and Divorce – Unintended Consequences

As the housing market continues in a largely downward trend nationwide, there have been some unintended and unexpected consequences for couples in the midst of a divorce. Whereas the marital home used to be a major asset, and sometimes a major dispute, in a divorce, reports the Chicago Tribune, the plunge in American home values has changed the role of the marital home in divorces. In many cases, the spouses are “upside down” or “underwater” on their mortgage, and sometimes more than one mortgage, in that the value of the home is less than the amount of the outstanding loans. As a result, the spouses typically end up taking a loss on the home, by selling it for less than it is worth, losing the home to the bank through the foreclosure process, or continuing to live in the home, hoping that the housing market will improve. 

Even worse, sometime the divorcing spouses have no choice but to remain in their home, together, even after their divorce becomes final, as they attempt to sell their home and recoup some of their equity. This can take an emotional toll on the couple and their children, which can make even a relatively amicable divorce more stressful and painful.

Another unintended consequence of the housing market for divorcing couples is the increased ability of each spouse to manipulate the situation to his or her advantage. A spouse who is not ready to let go of a home can do plenty in this housing market to delay or avoid a sale altogether. For instance, a spouse can easily insist on an unrealistic asking price in a situation where the mortgage exceeds the current home value, and then refuse to lower the price, regardless of the consequences.

If you are divorcing in Chicago and own a home, you will need the professional counsel of a DuPage County Illinois divorce lawyer to assist you with these often complex asset division issues. Your attorney is a necessary resource to help you successfully negotiate a mutually acceptable resolution with your spouse regarding your home and other assets.-

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