In 2008, many predicted that the recession would have a negative effect on marriages, as job losses and mounting debt would lead to more divorces. The divorce rate has steadily declined in the last two years, but the recession has changed the tenor of many divorces. Couples not accustomed to concession found themselves in awkward circumstances where the lack of resources forced them to make economical, "couple-focused" decisions even though they are no longer together.
Decisions on Property
With the housing market depressed, couples are no longer fighting over who retains the marital home. Home equity loans, lines of credit and depreciating home values leave many homes upside down. When a mortgage exceeds a home's value, couples normally walk away and end up splitting the debt. Some couples are forced to live under the same roof if they cannot afford new homes or find renting to be too expensive. Often, they are occupying different areas of the home (such as an upstairs or a basement). Some are sharing parenting responsibilities and even household chores while still living together.
Even with personal property there are concerns. Some couples revert to personal auctions where the highest bidder will keep the property. This encourages critical thinking regarding the true value of property and helps couples move on from emotional attachments.
Sharing Legal Costs
The recession has also changed how couples assert their legal rights. Traditionally, parties would hire their own attorneys and prepare for protracted legal battles, but today more couples are reaching agreements through mediators so that they can save money. Mediations and collaborative divorce proceedings focus on reaching amicable resolutions. They are often faster - thus, cheaper - than lawsuits, and the parties are less likely to violate their own agreements.
Decisions on Children
While it may not entirely be related to the recession, more men are asking for parenting time. This could coincide with more men being available because they are out of work, but it can also be attributed to men taking an active role in parenting since extracurricular programs are no longer affordable options for after-school supervision. Equal parenting time also may translate into lower child support payments.
If you are considering divorce and are facing financial dilemmas that could possibly keep you from moving forward, contact an experienced family law attorney in your area.