If the U.S.’s high divorce rate was enough to make you doubt the ability for even the happiest of couples to make it, we have some good news. But be warned, what you’re about to hear comes with a tiny grain of housing-market salt; but still, for romantics at heart, it won’t even matter.
The divorce rate in the U.S. fell 4 percent last year, according to a recent report by the National Marriage Project. The organization is naming the lousy housing market as the probable cause, because, according to the report, it seems couples with depreciated home values are waiting to split until the market rebounds. I know, “waiting to split until the market rebounds,” is not exactly the most romantic way to put it, however, a drop in the sky-high U.S. divorce rate is a welcome change considering the bad reputation the U.S. has with regards to its citizen’s apparent inability to maintain long-term commitments.
Regardless, at the moment, home values are down substantially and according to one source, 31.8 percent of home owners with a first mortgage currently owe more than their house is worth, resulting in couples who decide to get divorced choosing to split liabilities instead of assets. President of the Institute for Divorce Financial Analysts, Fadi Baradihi, notes, “It used to be that couples fought over the house because of continuity and stability for the children. That’s not happening anymore. Now everybody wants to run from it.” However, running from it was easy when properties had significantly higher values; so running isn’t the first thing couples are doing.
Some couples are now continuing joint ownership with an agreement to defer the sale of the house, in the hope that home values will rise down the road. While the agreement is in place, one spouse usually moves out.
Other couples are choosing to go for the “rent it out” method, which involves both spouses moving out and renting to someone else. The set-up does, however, create some difficulty in terms of buying another home, because both spouses are stick with the house and the payments for a long time while it’s being rented out.
So really, while it’s certainly good news that the divorce rate has dropped 4 percent over the last year, there is still a long list of stipulations that take the romance out of the news…but in a recession like the one we’ve seen, we’ll take what we can get.