Divorce and the impact of the recession – Sunday Times Article
While financial matters are one of the biggest strains on a marriage and a primary cause of divorce, the divorce rate has declined during the recession.
This, say some experts, is because getting divorced is costly, especially so when times are tough. Moreover, most lawyers require a deposit before they will consider a case.
People would rather hold back on divorce proceedings because of the cost involved. In many cases when there is a strain on the marriage, the main breadwinner will not disclose some sources of income or other financial details, which makes it very difficult for the other spouse to file for divorce. By default, this results in the couple staying married.
Couples have been choosing to separate or to stay together in an unhappy relationship. Most of the complaints, especially by women, are that they cannot afford to get divorced and are unsure whether they will be financially secure after divorce.
The economic climate is not that good, and people still have a lot of debt. Some people can’t afford to get divorced because of that.
Bertus Preller, an attorney at Bertus Preller & Associates, says couples are being coerced into staying together for pragmatic financial reasons.
Maintaining two separate households while relying on the income once used to support a single household can be very difficult when times are tough, he says.
“I also think that our challenging financial climate may have prompted individuals to reconsider the role of marriage by thinking more of it as a quest for financial stability than a quest for finding a soulmate.”
In a US survey in which 1197 married couples were asked how their relationship had changed during the recession, a third said their marriage was at a high risk of divorce through added financial stress, while 38% of couples who had been considering divorce delayed their plans because of the costs, including legal fees and setting up separate households.
About 30% said the struggle of surviving the recession had brought them closer to their partner as they weathered the storm together.
More than half of the 1600 attorneys who are members of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers reported a 40% downturn in their business in 2009, a phenomenon the New York Daily News described as “sleeping with the enemy”.
Those same lawyers are now being inundated with new clients as financial stability returns. The Financial Times reported that, in a signal of economic recovery, the US divorce rate was growing.
A stronger economy, lower unemployment and a housing market that is stabilizing are contributing to a rise in divorce filings.
“There is a definite increase in divorce instructions this year in comparison to 2010,” says Preller.
“From this, one may assume that the economy is slowly starting to pick up and, unfortunately, the divorce rate is too.”
Article by: Adele Shevel – Sunday Times: http://www.timeslive.co.za/sundaytimes/article1064919.ece/Recession-puts-brakes-on-divorce
Bertus Preller is a Divorce and Family Law Attorney in Cape Town and has more than 20 years experience in most sectors of the law and 13 years as a practicing attorney. He specializes in Family law and Divorce Law at Bertus Preller & Associates Inc. in Cape Town. Bertus is also the Family Law expert on Health24.com and on the expert panel of Law24.com and is frequently quoted on Family Law issues in newspapers such as the Sunday Times and Business Times. His areas of expertise are Divorce Law, Family Law, Divorce Mediation, Parenting Plans, Parental Responsibilities and Rights, Custody (care and contact) of children, same sex marriages, unmarried fathers rights, domestic violence matters, international divorce law, digital rights, media law and criminal law.