These days, breaking up is hard to do. With home values dropping and jobs disappearing, divorce has become a luxury for some unsatisfied couples. There’s often not enough money to pay for separate households or to hire lawyers, fight over kids and go to court. So, many are waiting out the economic storm, and living together as they separate. We read about this in the Washington Post.
David Goldberg is a divorce lawyer in Maryland. He says that in the 44 years he’s been working in family law, he’s never seen a time like this. He has stacks of files sitting in a drawer, because couples can’t move forward. A divorce can actually be fairly cheap - as little as $100 plus filing fees on a do-it-yourself basis, but to go that route, you have to be on good terms and agree on everything. However, if there are things to fight over, going to court can cost $20,000 or more. For couples who do go the cheap route, many owe more on their home than they could get if they sold it – so they can’t sell it and divide assets. That's because what they’d be splitting is debt. That’s why some spouses have gone from “I want the house!” to, “You take the house! And the debt that goes with it!”
Heather Hostetter has a divorce practice in Bethesda. She says it used to be that couples divorced with enough equity in their home that they could go their separate ways and each buy another home - it just might be a little smaller. However, now, you see people go from homeowners to renters, because that’s all they can do.
Or, in many cases, couples just tough it out and live together while they wait for the economy to get better, but they still consider themselves “separated.” They don’t do each other’s laundry, they don’t eat together, and they don’t go to the kids’ soccer games together.
Andrew Cherlin, a sociologist from Johns Hopkins University, says that the recession has probably created “a backlog” of unhappy married couples who’d like to get a divorce soon, but can’t afford it. He predicts that when the economy starts to really bounce back, there’ll be a surge in divorces, just like there was after The Great Depression ended.