From spouse to roommate

November 26, 2008
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When times get tough economically, people don’t divorce. At least, that’s what the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers are saying. The group sent out a press release recently that said divorce rates are more likely to fall rather than rise when the economy worsens. More than a third of lawyers who responded to a survey say they typically see a decrease in the number of divorce cases during bad economies; nearly 20 percent said they saw an increase. The rest reported similar rates, no matter how the economy is doing.

Granted, this isn’t a very scientific survey, but if you think about it, the results do make sense. Divorce isn’t cheap and if you are already struggling to pay your mortgage, car payment, bills, and put food on the table, a divorce may just have to wait. Plus, once you divorce, you’re down to one income to support yourself and possibly the kids.

Then there’s the issue of the house: if you own one, it’s got to be split someway. In this economy, selling it may not be an easy or affordable option, as it could stay on the market for months or even years. Granting the house to one spouse or the other may not be possible if the house can’t be afforded on just one income. The result: spouses turn into roommates, riding out the economic downturn until they can afford to divorce.

If you practice family law, do you agree with the AAML that fewer people divorce in poor economic times?

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