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Mediation could be the answer for divorcing on a budget

Despite the fact that financial problems are one of the leading reasons that a couple decides to end their marriage, a new study has found that divorce rates are actually increasing as the American economy recovers. According to a study that's due to appear in Population Research and Policy Review, divorce rates for married women fell from 2.09 percent to 1.95 percent throughout 2008 and 2009. In 2010 and 2011, however, that number climbed up to 1.98 percent. While the original drop in divorce numbers led the National Marriage Project to argue that hard times were bringing married couples closer together, the new research indicates that couples may have simply been waiting to get divorced until they could afford it.

A sociologist from Johns Hopkins University points out that a similar phenomenon occurred in the 1930s. He stated that divorce rates dropped during the great depression because couples could not afford a divorce - not because they were any happier in their marriage. The correlation between economics and divorce is not entirely understood, however. The same sociologist indicated that his own research found no definite link between unemployment and divorce, for example. Also, divorce rates are typically highest among low-income Americans that have less education.

The executive director of a family law center commenting on the statistics indicated that many people delay divorce because of the cost. She also stated that a divorce for low-income people can cost $800 to $1,000 even under ideal situations. Worse yet, the cost can skyrocket if the couple spends any time in court.

For Illinois couples wanting a divorce but are still struggling with the financial effects of the recession, mediation might be the answer. By allowing couples to resolve conflicts outside of the courtroom, family law experts might be able to help people avoid expensive litigation costs.

Source: latimes.com, "Divorces rise as economy recovers, study finds" Emily Alpert Reyes, Jan. 27, 2014

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