Marriages may be latest mortgage victim

"Marital problems on one side, economical problems on the other side. And they're hand in hand," said Ramin Dashtipour, who believes mortgage crises cause divorces.

Experts say the financial pressure that comes with an escalating house payment or a foreclosure is playing a big role in the divorce rate in the U.S.

The most recent U.S. census statistics are from 2005, when the divorce rate was listed at 36 percent.

But many expect that number to go a lot higher as couples struggle with mounting bills and higher mortgage rates.

"They actually can't afford it. And this means you actually have people crowded into a house, with the stress of losing a house, which then will usually pile on to the stress of an unfortunate marriage," said divorce attorney J. Michael Kelly.

Michael Kelly is a divorce attorney in Santa Monica. He says his office as been a lot busier in the last 10 months.

"Money alone doesn't do it," said Kelly. "But money is the last brick that breaks the camel's back."

But even more surprising, he's talked with many couples who decided to divorce, but then changed their minds because they don't have enough assets to split between them.

"And you have people who are starting divorces who are stopping them because there's not enough to sell a house and each person at least gets a modest townhouse," said Kelly.

"I think a lot of people feel trapped in their mortgages or in their homes," said Rick Carter, a marriage and family therapist.

Carter says even though it's too soon for any definitive studies linking divorce to the economy, he's seen a lot of couples arguing about their financial problems. His advice?

"Get into solution-focused thinking immediately," said Carter. "You want to get back on the same page and start to consider your options and resources for solving your problem. Number two is you have to accept reality even though it may not be what you had wanted it to be."

Carter also says you should consult a financial adviser, as well as friends and family. And he suggests finding a couples therapist.

And most importantly: "Get out of the problem and into a solution as quickly as possible," said Carter. "And do that as a united force. Do not ruin your relationship over brick and mortar."


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