A recent report in The Wall Street Journal has revealed something shocking. Due to the ongoing challenges of the housing market, certain divorced couples are feeling the pinch. The couples who have romantically split are continuing their domestic relationships. Yes, that’s right – as a result of the challenges of moving house, divorced couples are continuing to live together. This phenomenon has grown exponentially in recent years, thanks to the ongoing difficulty of securing new places to live!

Keeping a Secret: The Stigma and Silence

One striking aspect of this situation is how many of these divorced couples are trying to keep their living arrangements a secret. It’s certainly an unconventional living arrangement, which has led some couples to feel embarrassed about their situation. Living like this means couples have to maintain a civil relationship, and things get even more complicated when children are involved. One saving grace is that these living situations are typically designed to be temporary, with both parties saving money for an eventual move – be it buying, renting, or further hidden costs, like furnishing.

Financial Burden: From Joint Mortgages to Depreciating Home Values

Divorce is both expensive and complicated – and it can become even more so if the parties share a financial stake in a property! One prime example is illustrated by the case of Danielle Tantone and her soon-to-be ex-husband, Michael Tantone. The couple jointly purchased their Mesa, Arizona home in July 2022, with a mortgage of approximately $600,000 and an interest rate of 5.62%.

Originally planning to refinance when mortgage rates fell, the couple instead found themselves facing divorce, leaving them with a home that has depreciated in value and is financially unattainable for either party individually. This financial burden forces them to navigate the complexities of a short sale, given that the property’s current market value is less than the amount they paid. “It’s currently worth less than we paid for it, so we are forced to short sell,” Danielle told the Wall Street Journal.

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Hesitation to Make It Official: Complexities Beyond the Emotional

The emotional implications of divorce are not to be overlooked, and it seems that the challenges of the current housing market are making things even worse. In fact, some couples have reported postponing their official and legal separation all because of their living situation.

Alongside the problems with housing, other financial obligations like job uncertainties, the additional expenses associated with establishing two separate households, and existing financial obligations, including credit card debt and student loans are said to be playing a part. This all means that couples are staying married longer than either party genuinely wants to.

Homes as Complex Assets: Refinancing Challenges in a High-Interest Rate Environment

Houses typically represent the largest shared asset between any married couple. This means they pose a particularly intricate challenge in divorce proceedings. There are usually two options for a home when it comes to divorce: couples either sell the home and divide the proceeds or opt for one spouse to refinance the mortgage and buy out the other’s interest.

But the current sky-high mortgage rates can make both selling and refinancing a home financially unviable. Marilyn Maycock’s experience is a microcosm of this larger problem. She opted to refinance her home at a higher interest rate of 6.45%, well above the previous 3.5%, in order to buy out her husband’s stake in the property.

Juggling Cohabitation and Co-Parenting: A Delicate Balancing Act

For many estranged couples, the housing situation is just one of the complicated problems they’re dealing with. Couples who share a family particularly feel the strain, as living together while undergoing divorce proceedings becomes a challenging juggling act. “We are working on what some days feels like the impossible: cohabiting and co-parenting in a 1,200-square-foot home,” one woman said. 

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Creating New Rules: Navigating Changed Dynamics

Liza Caldwell, co-founder of a coaching business for divorcees, emphasizes the importance of establishing new house rules to signify the changed dynamics of the relationship. She told Fox News: “If you can’t stay married and you can’t leave, you can create a new set of rules to symbolize that things are not the same.” Couples now have to bear the emotional alongside the logistical and financial hurdles of parting ways. 

Divorce represents a meeting of financial, emotional, and now, housing issues. The fact couples are keeping quiet about living together once divorced depicts the social stigma attached. It’s clear the housing market is not out there to help mediate post-divorce living arrangements.

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