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Some of us feel stuck in a monster movie. Perhaps we might picture the 1931 Frankenstein where the mad doctor cries, “It’s alive! It’s ALIVE!” The monster in this case is as abstract as real, our lives and decisions haunting more of us today than before the COVID-19 pandemic.

We’ve been talking a lot recently about “the Big Split,” and this kind isn’t sweet. It’s often bitter, even if it’s full of its own brand of fruitiness. This “Big Split” pertains to divorce. Till recent months, we haven’t really begun to see the full statistical impact the pandemic has had upon divorce, and consequently, real estate trends.

In short, divorce has become more complicated than ever while the truly schizoid constitution of some marital unions have increased the level of difficulty 10-fold. So have real estate deals in response to them.



When it comes to divorce, California has ranked surprisingly low when compared to other states. In 2019, before the pandemic shoved American families into the deep freeze of isolation, California ranked 10th from the bottom with 6.5% of cases per 1,000. Even though Reno has been widely considered the “Divorce Capital of America,” the reality is a bit different. The state with the lowest divorce rate was Maine with 4.8%. The states with the highest rates included Arkansas with 10.7% followed by Oklahoma at 10.5%, then Nevada and New Mexico tied for the 3rd spot at 10.2%.

How has the pandemic changed these numbers? Predictably, they’ve sprung higher as if someone stuck kegs of gunpowder under our floors and lit the fuse. It’s still too early in 2022 to figure fractions of percentage points and rankings very likely will change later in the year, but here’s where we stand so far:

California currently ties with Hawaii, New York, New Jersey, and Utah at 9% per 1000: below the national average of 11.42%. Maine is now tied with the District of Columbia for the most per 1000 at an eye-popping 14%. For California, that’s a 34.3% jump, modest in comparison to Maine’s 191.7% divorce spree.

.Even so, we may well ask of us al the same as what many married folks have asked, “What’s happened to us?”

It’s a combination of many stressors which may appear in whole or in part:

(1)      Unemployment

(2)      Child care

(3)      Illnesses

(4)      Mental health crises

(5)      Drained assets

(6)      Hospital debt

(7)      Addictions

(8)      Infidelity

(9)      Domestic Violence

(10)   Deaths of family members

(11)   Legal pressures resulting from deaths of family members including…

(12)   Pending and protracted probate issues

(13)   An increasingly divisive political climate

(14)   Failure to secure mortgage or rental relief

(15)   General uncertainty upending life plans

It’s a complex recipe for a metaphorical “poisoned pie.” Given such an array of troubles that outnumber the 7 last plagues, it’s no wonder that so many are ready to say, “Enough is enough.”


Of course, things can never be as they once were, especially when children enter the arena of gladiatorial hand-parting. Kids are incredibly astute when it comes to family disharmony. When there’s trouble, they know it. Worse yet, many kids blame themselves and may even close themselves against 1 or both parents. That compounds mental health issues, not only for themselves, but for entire families.

Child custody issues have proven the most contentious issue in divorces today, especially when it comes down to matters like vaccinations and masking. Spouses on opposite sides of debates over whether to accept these medical directives have taken the proportions of religious pronouncements, pro and con. Does one spouse, contrary to the convictions of the other, oppose vaccination, believing what a church teaches, even insisting upon not permitting masking in schools? Does opposition to medical mandates rest upon claims of religious freedom?

The point isn’t to debate one side or another, but simply to show where these intense disagreements lead. Where will the children go to school? Will they be homeschooled? How will this be approached? Let’s say that one spouse believes in a state directive for masking but the other not only opposes masking but vaccinations as well. It’s easy to see how spouses would literally be ready to fight to the death for the welfare of the children. Spouses may consider the child living with the other spouse to be tantamount to a death sentence, or worse in the eyes of some Evangelicals if vaccines become associated with the “mark of the Beast” depicted in the Apocalypse of John.

Right now, the State of California still mandates masks in K-12 school settings. Last October, California became the first state to mandate vaccination against COVID-19 in schools. Certain districts such as Calaveras Unified, Tuolumne County’s Soulsbyville ElementaryLucerne Valley UnifiedHesperia Unified, and Stanislaus County’s Oakdale Unified indicated that they would defy state orders to enforce any mandates.

That means that when spouses vehemently disagree on the mandates, somebody will insist on moving where such mandates aren’t enforced. For most who live in Southern California and nurture anti-mandate convictions, that means moving away to areas where mandates aren’t enforced.


Sadly, while these conflicts play out in seemingly unending court battles, rents come due. So do mortgages. If nobody takes action as these matters grow more and more pressing, the effect can be compared to a ticking financial time bomb.

At this stage, what remains for homeowner relief is the California Mortgage Relief Program that launched in January. If you’re a homeowner still in need of assistance, check out this website that the state set up for you: This program, providing up to $80,000 in grants to distressed homeowners includes some eligibility criteria (quoting the website):

(1)      Household income of all household members over the age of 18 is at or below 100% of the Area Median Income. 

(2)      Homeowner must be at least two payments past due by December 27, 2021

(3)      Homeowner must currently own and occupy the property in California as their primary residence.

(4)      Homeowner may only own and occupy one property.

(5)      Homeowner must attest that they experienced a Qualified Financial Hardship after January 21, 2020. The attestation must describe the nature of the financial hardship.

(6)      The original, unpaid principal balance of the homeowner’s primary mortgage loan, at the time of origination, cannot be greater than the “conforming loan limit” (as determined under the provisions of the Housing and Economic Recovery Act of 2008) in effect at time of origination. (The site includes a link to where you can check whether you meet this requirement.)

(7)      Homeowners cannot have cash or assets on hand (excluding savings in a retirement account) that is equal to or greater than the relief funds needed + $20,000. (For example, homeowners needing $30,000 to get caught up on their mortgage will be ineligible if they have $50,000 or more in assets).

This relief probably won’t affect your decision to divorce, but it may affect your decision concerning when to divorce. The clock on that financial time bomb is ticking. Lenders and servicers won’t wait far beyond due dates for their monthly mortgage payment before issuing that Notice of Default.

More importantly, getting caught up on your mortgage goes a long way to maintaining control of your property when facing divorce. Retaining control over your property directly affects your ability to sell property and apply any proceeds to a new home for whatever purpose.



O yes you do.

When filing for a divorce, nobody just files a single petition form to the court and everything churns out to something equitable and hunky-dory in a few months. The court will require other forms on top of the petition including declarations for assets, income and expenses, and child custody. Few do-it-yourself divorces petitions actually work out as do-it-yourself divorces. You need help from an Attorney to tackle the process, or at the very least, advise you concerning what to expect for your particular circumstances. Even if you decide to go it alone, the forms can bewilder anyone, prompting assistance from a Paralegal.

But as a general rule, if your situation is complicated because of property and child custody issues in a contentious battle, you may not be able to avoid Attorney services. It comes down to this: courts prefer to split the assets 50%/50% between the divorcing spouses. It’s the welfare of the children that most complicates matters, and they takes priority over any asset redistribution. It’s not a simple divorce when spouses lock horns, and COVID-19 issues have exacerbated this beyond what anyone had imagined.

When children are involved, one spouse may end up with the home. That may involve buying out the other spouse and refinancing property under one Borrower. Negotiating these matters would involve a real estate mortgage Broker. If this means selling the property and using the proceeds to buy a cheaper property in Stanislaus County, then that Broker needs to go to bat for you to get the best price possible on the property you control now.


There’s another aspect complicating divorce not often discussed but it’s pertinent to the COVID-19 pandemic. Many of us have lost loved ones to COVID-19. Deaths of family members impose new issues of intermenthospitalizationsestate issues, and taxes, especially if one of the divorcing spouses has been appointed as a Personal Representative or Executor. Often, these issues involve probate. Probate cases often take months to resolve and at times fester for over a year. These matters affect family finances and time commitments, adding to the legal quagmire that divorce can impose. Consequently, your Broker needs to be savvy enough to work with you through these intricacies in conjunction with your legal team.

You also need to discuss with a skillful real estate Broker ASAP if your situation becomes such that you owe more on your mortgage than the home is worth. Your Broker can negotiate a short sale. If you close on a short sale, you can become eligible for another home purchase in a matter of months. But you need to communicate your concerns to licensed professionals and develop whatever plan works for you.


It really gets to be a tall order for most real estate Brokers, and typical real estate Salespeople don’t know where to begin with the dire predicaments of divorcees. Think of it. You need someone who can help you on multiple levels:

  • You need a Broker who understands the intricacies of divorce and with a reputation for effectiveness in cooperation with the family courts.
  • You need a Broker who also understands the intricacies ofprobate where divorce becomes compounded with family deaths during the pandemic and who has a reputation for effectiveness in cooperation with those courts.
  • You need a Broker with a track record of getting the highest offer for property.
  • You need a Broker with a proven track record of negotiating and closing short sales.
  • You need a Broker who can help with refinancing.
  • You need a Broker who’s well connected with Attorneys and Paralegals.
  • You need a Broker with connections with people who can do maintenancework as necessary to prepare for sale.
  • You need a Broker who has a track record for getting difficult transactions closed.


You need Mariella of iRealty Shop

Mariella has that broad track record for getting the highest price on properties through both divorce and probate cases. As a former Broker member of the Orange County BAR Association as well as the Pacific West Association of REALTORS® (PWAOR), her connections with Attorneys and Paralegals are well established over the course of many years. She can refer you to the right people. She also has connections with landscapers and contractors to help you prepare your property for sale. Mariella has not only closed short sales, but has done so under conditions of some of the thorniest divorce cases I’ve ever seen. She’s also registered with the Nationwide Multistate Licensing System (NMLS), attesting to her skills to help you with refinancing in the divorce process.

Simply stated, Mariella’s skills are exceptional, even by Broker standards. Many real estate offices claim to offer “full service.” I’ve known many real estate offices over the years, and I can attest that you would have to look very hard to find anyone with the proven skill and dedication that Mariella has cultivated over many years of experience.

Call iRealty Shop TODAY  and talk to her about the issues you face. If you’re going down the dusty trail of divorce, you deserve peace of mind, settling the many issues that arise during these troubling times. Don’t wait. Begin your journey to a better life now. 


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