divorce on the cheapThe economy is pulling marital bliss right down the crapper along with it and due to fewer assets raising the temperature of already emotional and heated divorces to boiling level. Many divorcees are already fighting over money and with the economy doing so poorly are now dividing up debts rather than fighting over summer homes and frequent flier miles. MSNBC reported on a case in which a freshly divorced husband and wife had to remain living in the same home because they couldn't afford to live elsewhere and another case in which the income of the involved parties had to be adjusted down from $15 million to under $1 million causing even more bitterness!

Historically divorces and the economy have had an interesting relationship, in the last 3 recessions the divorce rates have risen and peaked within a year of the end of the recession. In the early eighties the divorce rate peaked at 5.3 per 1,000 during the recession caused by the Iranian revolution after which it tapered off until the early nineties where it again capped off at 4.8 during a downturn in the industrial and manufacturing industry. Finally the divorce rate climbed back up to its most recent high as the tech bubble popped and dot coms began failing.As the MSNBC article points out research has shown that any appreciable shift in income for a couple increases the risk of divorce. Since the current downturn isn't just affecting the income of couples but preventing a quick disillusion of their home more couples are looking for a cheaper solution to marital strife. These couples concerned with the financial ruin that a divorce can cause are deciding to try out counseling first to see if their marriages and their pocketbooks can be saved. It will be interesting to see if the divorce rates for the years around this economic crisis show when they are released in a few years. Will they be down because we all got stingier or does for richer or poorer really just mean for richer or the same!

Since I would venture to guess that more of us have had roommates than have been through a divorce maybe this analogy will help explain why dealing with a divorce is bitterer when you don't have the luxury of splitting up assets but rather dealing out debts. Do you remember when your first lease ended and the landlord sent you the security deposit? It was relatively easy for the 2 of you to split up. But when the final cable bill came and included a charge for breaking the contract and the un-returned remote, do you remember how heated that argument became? Accusing each other of feeding the remote to the dog or blaming the final DVR charge on your roommate who was the only one who watched that damn thing anyway? Well multiply that situation by years together and we might start to approach the current situation.

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