An article issued by Reuters called "Owners skulking away from 'underwater' U.S. homes" includes the following bit of advice:
Market experts say that, while lenders have the right to sue [borrowers who can't make mortgage payments] for breach of contract, most will not pursue charges against "indigent" individuals unless they abandon mortgage payments for business interests.
Barnard [a debtor who wants to abandon his home] and some financial planners say that, in certain cases, giving up is the only option.
It can take a year or longer for a bank to seize a home once the owner ceases payments. While a foreclosure hurts credit, owners do not have to make mortgage payments as the process unfolds and can use that saved money to start over.