Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Trapped by the Economy

A few weeks ago, the Associated Press published a story about couples who have divorced or separated, but cannot afford to begin separate households and thus are forced to continue living together.

Running into your ex is almost always awkward and stressful. David Snyder and Nancy Partridge deal with it nearly every day.

The Denver couple divorced after six years of marriage but have been forced to live together for months because they can't sell their place or afford to set up separate households in this slumping economy.

Snyder gets the master bedroom, while Partridge gets a smaller one. Snyder watches TV on one end of the house, Partridge on the other. The two split the grocery bill and kitchen duties. Sometimes they eat dinner together, sometimes apart. There are awkward silences, or worse.

"We've had tremendous arguments over things like who gets to park in the garage, but at this point, it's kind of settling down into a routine," said Partridge, 45, who works in public relations. "It's the lesser of two evils. I think the financial stress of a foreclosure, which would probably also lead to a bankruptcy, would be worse."

With the recession and the collapse of the housing market, more and more couples who have broken up are continuing to live under the same roof, according to judges and divorce lawyers. Some are waiting for housing prices to rebound; some are trying to get back on their feet financially.
For some couples, continuing to reside together is not just inconvenient, but dangerous. This is why domestic violence safe house programs are so important. Women are often asked why they do not leave their abusive partners and financial concerns are one of the top reasons cited. The choice between violence and homelessness is not an easy one, and it is a choice no one should have to make.

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