The Housing Slump Is a Stumbling Block in More and More Divorces
David and Tipheny DelPrado divorced in 2006. But the legal battle between the two didn't begin to wind down until this month, and the housing slump may be partly to blame.
Under their 2005 separation agreement, Tipheny DelPrado was supposed to assume the mortgage on the couple's three-bedroom Virginia home. For her, that meant either refinancing the mortgage or selling the house.
Tipheny DelPrado argued that the poor housing market was keeping her from making a sale, but that didn't stop a judge from threatening to put her in jail on a charge of contempt of court, said J.B. Thomas, the lawyer for David DelPrado.
The couple reached an agreement earlier this month that kept Tipheny DelPrado out of jail: If she fails to sell or refinance the home by mid-July, she'll have to give it to her ex-husband.
Tipheny DelPrado did not respond to requests for an interview.
"If she really wanted to sell the house, she would have to do anything it took to sell it," Thomas said. "She might not get the price she wants, she may not even get near the price she wanted had she sold it two or three years ago."
The DelPrados may represent an extreme case, but they're far from the only divorcing couple coping with housing woes. Divorce lawyers and real estate agents say that more and more of their clients have found their divorces snarled by the struggles they face in selling their homes.
Last month, median house prices saw their largest annual decline in nearly a decade, while sales for single-family homes nationwide dropped 2 percent, according to the National Association of Realtors. As shrinking home values, slow home sales and the credit crunch take their toll on American homeowners, splitting couples seeking to sell property might find themselves in a tougher spot than most.
"It's always complicated when people own a house, live in a house together and they need to get a divorce," said Lee Borden, a divorce lawyer in Birmingham, Ala. "It's getting more complicated now because they both know going into … a divorce that it's going to be harder to sell the house, in many cases it's going to sell more slowly."
Read it all at ABC News.