Is the current economic crisis reducing the divorce rate and keeping couples together? According to current news reports couples are choosing to remain married because they don't think they can afford a divorce. My divorce attorney colleagues verify that business is down dramatically. What's the real story here? Is diversity bringing couples closer together? From my perspective, No. Money troubles create a strain on the marriage and exacerbate problems that may have existed in good times.
Some couples are trying to "tough it out" by living in the same house as if they were roommates. This is hardly a satisfactory solution and certainly does not improve their mental health. If they have children, this creates even more confusion and turmoil for the children than if the parents were to move to separate homes. As their morale lowers, the financial difficulties become worse and the endless cycle continues.
Some couples search the internet for ways to get a "quick, cheap" divorce. Naturally I have a bias against this approach. I have found people who spent several hundred dollars and a lot of time and frustration and still were not divorced. I have had calls from people who were totally misinformed and sadly, I have had calls from people who let their spouse do all the work and now have serious regrets about what they gave up. Just the other day a young woman asked me if she could have her divorce settlement revised after five years! Filing in an unknown county across the state has many pitfalls, some of which don't appear until years later. If you have children, own real estate or either party has retirement accounts, you should at least have a conversation with a lawyer.
What can be done?
First of all, not all lawyers are scary. Some of us are quite easy to talk to and might even offer a cup of coffee along with a conversation. I explore alternatives with clients in keeping with their main interests. What are the alternatives for a house that has no equity or won't sell? What would it take to live in separate residences? How can you save on legal fees? I also point out ways to preserve privacy. Legal costs are a big concern and I, as well as many of my colleagues, am willing to discuss cost cutting measures.
Often after I have a conversation with prospective clients they find that I really do earn my keep. I can help them simplify the process and at the same time make sure all issues have been addressed.
I am available for questions either by e mail or phone. I would also like to share some stories about how other folks have handled a divorce in tough economic times.