Making Divorce Affordable During Tough Economic Times
There is a crude commonly expressed saying used in movies and television, “Cheaper to keep her.” Despite the inappropriate nature of this statement, there is a growing economic reality that many couples are staying together or living under the same roof during divorce because of the economic challenges faced by splitting up. Divorce is financially challenging under the best of circumstance because the assets and income that previously provided the financial support for a single household must suddenly support dual households. These economic hardships do not even include the direct cost of divorce, such as attorney fees, court filing costs, expert fees and more.
The link between economic conditions and the decision of parties to separate rather than go through divorce has been documented in a number of studies. The National Marriage Project conducted a survey and found that forty percent of parties contemplating divorce delayed their decision during the recent recession. Many parties that know there is essentially no chance to save their marriage are apprehensive about confronting the uncertain economic future that can arise in the aftermath of divorce during tough economic times. Further, the loss of equity in family homes and retirement accounts may make it harder for families to pay for divorce or to start over once the divorce process is completed.
While financial hardships can accompany the divorce process, this does not mean there are not cost-effective alternatives other than continuing to live under the same roof. Many couples opt for physical, financial and/or legal separation. However, there are many mistakes that can accompany such an approach that may be more costly than simply filing for divorce in New Jersey in the first place. If you have comingled bank accounts, joint assets and other financial connections, you may want to seek legal advice to ensure that your financial interests are protected. Party’s that opt for an informal separation without legal advice and guidance may find that critical assets are sold or encumbered by new debt.
Some people concerned about the financial impact of a divorce presume they simply cannot afford to pay for a divorce. There are many options to deal with the cost of a divorce. If you are a stay at home parent or the lower wage earner in the marriage, the judge may order the other party to cover your attorney fees, which includes providing advances so that you can pay for representation during the early stages of the process. The economically disadvantaged spouse may also receive temporary alimony (spousal support) so that the party can cover his or her living expenses during the divorce process. Sometimes the economically disadvantaged spouse can even remain in the family home while the higher earning spouse pays the mortgage on a temporary basis with credit being given for the contributions to the mortgage made by the spouse that is not living there.
Another option for making the divorce process affordable is divorce mediation. New Jersey divorce mediation is especially valuable because it prevents the depletion of marital wealth during the divorce process. When the parties are able to resolve their differences amicably the divorce process can be relatively inexpensive, which leaves both parties with more assets after the divorce to begin rebuilding.