Ryan Lochte swam through divorce and foreclosure on the way to London

Ryan Lochte swimming

The gossip sites are all aflutter about the fact that Olympic swimmer Ryan Lochte’s parents are facing foreclosure on their $258,000 home in Volusia County, Fla.

The speculative chatter from the Internet peanut gallery has not been kind.

The Lochtes have been accused of “trying to keep up with the Joneses” and using the money they needed to make their $1,609.58 monthly mortgage payment to spoil their son.

On the other extreme, Ryan Lochte has been pilloried for not bailing his parents out of their financial predicament.

In another time and place, the Lochtes would be considered the all-American family — one to be celebrated for raising such a successful son, not reproached for their financial decisions.

Yet they find themselves being asked about foreclosure as much as their son’s victories in London. What went wrong?

Simply put: the winning combination of divorce and unemployment. Two of the three most common reasons for financial distress in America — the third, of course, being a major illness.

In a recent interview with USA Today, Ileana Lochte explained the mess in this way: “I just got divorced and I had lost my job and we’re trying to work it out.”

That makes a lot of sense.

I don’t mean to pile on with my own speculation — Lord knows, the Lochtes are currently at the mercy of enough Internet trolls.

But having been divorced, I know just how hard it can hit you financially. It doesn’t surprise me that a recently divorced couple might unexpectedly find themselves in foreclosure.

Think about it.

Almost all couples who divorce have one thing in common: the inability to solve problems together.

It’s what usually behind the marriage unraveling — those so-called “irreconcilable differences” — no matter what other factors may be at play. So how do you deal with a family home if you can’t agree on, well, anything?

One scenario might have a judge ordering you to sell the house and split the proceeds. But in today’s housing market that’s often easier said than done.

Who pays to fix any problems with the house? To keep the lawn mowed and the light bulbs changed while it’s on the market? Even silly things like this can become acrimonious when you’re dividing up a life.

Another solution could have one spouse buy out the other, refinancing the home into just his or her name.

Again, it’s something that has a lot of potential for conflict. To start, you have to agree on the buy-out price, which can be tricky when you have to factor in the average 35% drop in home values since 2006.

Everyone feels like they are losing something.

Then, of course, comes all the refi paperwork.

If the buying party is lucky, he or she has kept good credit, in his or her own name, during the tenure of the marriage.

Unfortunately, many wives who chose to stay home with the kids don’t have the credit histories or independent income required to qualify for a new home loan.

Anyone who’s unemployed like Ileana Lochte is going to be straight out of luck.

But let’s say there is a job and good credit. The buying party still has to rely on a potentially embittered spouse to provide tax returns and other financial information during the mortgage approval process.

Remember what a pain the paperwork was when you first bought the house?

Trying to dig up random (and hard to find) pieces of financial paperwork, often the night before you are supposed to close? Imagine doing it again with an ex-spouse who is less than cooperative. Most people, if given a choice, would rather have a root canal.

The Lochte family, in the midst of divorce and unemployment, hit a financial rough patch that led to a lawsuit.

While none of us know the particulars to their situation, the general scenario is not all that uncommon.

It pays to remember that ending a marriage is rife with potential for emotional stress and financial catastrophe.

I think it’s pretty amazing that Ryan and his parents made it to London, and a testament to his determination that he was able to win five medals.

Why isn’t anyone talking about that?

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