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Divorcing couples. While hard times can often strain marriages, the housing downturn may be curbing divorces. The American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers also says it’s seeing divorce rates fall. Overall, 37% of members said they see a decrease in divorce cases, according to a November report.
Members responded that they typically see a drop in the number of divorce cases during national economic downturns, while only 19% cited an increase during these challenging times. That’s partly because couples used to be able to divorce and easily sell their homes.
But with home sales so anemic, couples are reluctantly staying together until the housing market turns around. “It takes months and months to sell a home. … They can’t afford another residence,” says Michael Gora, a divorce lawyer in Boca Raton, Fla. “I’ve had consultations where people even back off of divorce because they realize the desperate financial straits they’re in.
” The housing market is drawing some families together, but challenges include lifestyle differences, generational differences, depression, money squabbles and other issues when relatives huddle together for economic relief, says Nicholas Aretakis, a career coach and author of No More Ramen: The 20-Something’s Real World Survival Guide. Moving in with relatives can be “demoralizing, humbling, dehumanizing — but a lot of people don’t have a lot of choice,” Aretakis says. “You lose that sense of independence, privacy and self-esteem,” he says. “You lose somewhat of your identity.”