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America’s Poorest Couples Choose Separation as Risky Alternative to Divorce

Posted on in Divorce

divorce, money, poorer couples, Naperville divorce attorneyTough economic times are leading America’s poorest married couples to choose separation over divorce, a recent study reports. Divorces are costly for many reasons. While legal fees play a part, other factors like shared health insurance plans and if the couple has children play a role in keeping disadvantaged couples together. With divorce on the rise in America, it makes sense that economically disadvantaged couples are still splitting up, but choosing the cheaper alternative of long term separation over divorce.

Longitudinal Research

The study, conducted by researchers at Ohio State University, surveyed 7,272 people between 1979 and 2008, all of whom were married at some point throughout the survey period. A large majority of the couples who separated reported getting a divorce within three years of their break up. Approximately 15 percent, however, separated but did not get a divorce for at least 10 years after their separation. The study’s authors noticed that, of the 15 percent that remained married despite being separated, a large majority were economically disadvantaged. They simply could not afford to get a divorce. Many in the married but separated group had lower levels of education, tended to be Hispanic or African American, and had young children. “In every measure we had, including family background, income and education, those who remain separated are more disadvantaged than those who end up divorcing,” one of the study’s authors reported.

Researchers were surprised to find that other factors like religion and shared children played less of a role in couple’s reasoning to separate but remain married. Experts previously thought that religious pressure led unhappy couples to remain married, perhaps instead choosing to live separately but not violate any of their religious principles by undoing their marriage. It was also assumed that messy co-parenting schedules and potential harm to children’s health and well-being was another factor in keeping unhappy couples together. This study, however, suggested that couples seem most concerned with money.

Battling High Costs

The study showed that while legal fees do play a part in keeping poorer couples together, they are not the only reason. Hiring a lawyer can be done affordably, but for families with many children, hours of battling to determine child custody can be costly. There are other financial advantages to being married that also push poorer couples into staying together. Things like filing joint taxes, shared health insurance plans, retirement accounts, and shared property lead economically disadvantaged couples to choose separation over an official divorce.

Choosing separation over divorce, while potentially cheaper, could have serious consequences down the road. While still married, each person could be held responsible for shared debt and sharing earnings. Many separated people do not realize this, and end up paying for debts they did not accumulate themselves. For couples who intend on getting back together after a long-term separation, the odds are unlikely. The study revealed that only 5 percent of couples who separated long-term ended up back together.

If you are considering a divorce, a qualified Naperville divorce attorney can review your options with you. Contact the Pesce Law Group, P.C. to learn more about our services. Call 630-352-2240 today.


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