Is Separation the Answer to the Rising Cost of Divorce?

The economic crisis in America appears to be having a knock-on effect for separating couples. Researchers at Ohio State University recently published the results of a study into the number of divorces versus separations in the United States. The findings suggest that low income families in particular are now viewing long-term separation as a low-cost alternative to the legal costs of a divorce lawyer.

Within the study’s specified time period, just under half of the participants had a failed first marriage, with 4 out of 5 of those ending in divorce. Indeed, divorce is still the preferred option for couples following a marriage breakdown in America, with most divorces being finalised within 3 years of separation. However, the demographics of these divorce figures were intriguing. The results showed that there were few socio-cultural differences between those who divorced immediately and those who separated and then divorced. Yet those who separated without getting a divorce typically earned lower wages, had more children and originated from lower income families that divorcing couples. Furthermore, almost 75% of these couples were Hispanic or Africa-American.

The trends suggests that long-term separation is deemed to be an economical response to the high cost of divorce from poorer American families. With the US economy showing limited signs of recovery amidst fears about the “fiscal cliff”, low and middle income families are likely to continue to struggle with their personal finances and we could see an increase in those who are priced out of divorce. As a result, long-term separation could continue to be the only option for many.