From a financial perspective, a lot goes into the divorce process. Between all of the fees and extra living expenses, the numbers begin to add up very quickly.
For individuals unable to afford the most basic of needs on a regular basis, let alone during the divorce process, it can be a long road to end a marriage.
Financial well-being is a necessity in today’s society. In order to afford the basics of living, one needs to have the money to pay for them, and that starts with employment. Studies have shown the impact that not having a job can have on a marriage and how it can spell divorce to a vulnerable couple without the financial stability to withstand the stress of the situation.
However, that does not necessarily account for those that are employed, but still are facing financial hardships. Many find themselves in such dire straits that they cannot afford to pursue ways of gathering funds, due to the inability to spend any money whatsoever. With the burden being placed on two married individuals and their possible children, they still would be considered to be in a higher income bracket than if the couple were to divorce and become two single parent households.
According to the Brookings Institute, single parents have much lower incomes and much higher poverty rates than their married counterparts. This is one of the many socioeconomic consequences of divorce. Social mobility limits and a lack of educational opportunity can prevent an increase in economic opportunities, limiting the amount of cash flow increases that can occur for a married couple during their lifetime.
Outside of the norm
For a divorced individual facing the prospect of paying alimony and child support, while still failing to scratch the surface on affording basic living expenses, the reality can be challenging both financially and emotionally. No one wants to be in those circumstances, and for those not yet in the divorce process but facing the marital struggles that incite it, the idea of getting a divorce is met with questions regarding the feasibility of the matter.
This is why many couples simply separate without any legal help. They find it easier to be a part from one another and create new lives for themselves without dealing with the legal hoops of divorce. They still find themselves married, but in terms of a familial arrangement, there are two homes created.
For some, this arrangement works. This allows spouses to become self-reliant on their own earning ability, as they create life for themselves. It requires the trust between co-parents to allow the children to go back and forth from homes without the interference of family courts.
However, for many, this is not an ideal scenario. They find themselves without a legal leg to stand on when conflict inevitably rears its ugly head. They find themselves unable to see their children because one parent decides it. They find themselves asking for more money, creating more conflict. Furthermore, it limits an individual’s ability to remarry, if they so choose to.
The short term solution does not fix the long term problem: the need to divorce and end an unhappy and dysfunctional relationship. On top of that issue, the inability to produce the funding necessary for a sustainable life can have a negative impact on children of divorce.
For the children
According to the United States Census Bureau survey from 2009, children living with a parent who divorced were more likely to be living in a household below the poverty line at 28 percent, in comparison to other children at 19 percent. In addition, children living with a divorced parent were more likely to live in a rented home at 53 percent, in comparison to other children at 36 percent.
It also affects a child’s social mobility over the course of their lifetime. The rates of social mobility between generations are higher among children who live with their continuously married parents than among those who experience either a family divorce or a long period of single parenthood, according to the Brookings Institute.
Economic difficulties can play a large factor in the decision-making process, but in a challenging marriage, the decision-making process can create the financial difficulties that many find themselves facing. Making smart choices with money is something that is preached at all ages, but it is important to remember when facing the prospect of a divorce. If income is not coming in at a fast enough pace, it can cause an accrual of debt, and the spending habits that create that debt will find themselves under the microscope during any divorce proceeding.
It is difficult for anyone to advise anyone facing poverty or low-income living to save money. It simply is not always a realistic strategy that allows for better forming spending habits. It costs money to maintain any semblance of living, and during a divorce, every penny matters. Understanding the importance of money during these difficult circumstances may help one refocus and take a step in the right financial direction moving forward, after the divorce.
Dan Pearce is an Online Editor for Lexicon, focusing on subjects related to the legal services of customers, Cordell & Cordell and Cordell Planning Partners. He has written countless pieces on MensDivorce.com, detailing the plight of men and fathers going through the divorce experience, as well as the issues seniors and their families experience throughout the estate planning journey on ElderCareLaw.com. Mr. Pearce has managed websites and helped create content, such as the Men’s Divorce Newsletter and the YouTube series, “Men’s Divorce Countdown.” He also has been a contributor on both the Men’s Divorce Podcast and ElderTalk with TuckerAllen.
Mr. Pearce assisted in fostering a Cordell Planning Partners practice area specific for Veterans, as they deal with the intricacies of their benefits while planning for the future. He also helped create the Cordell Planning Partners Resource Guide and the Cordell Planning Partners Guide to Alternative Residence Options, specific for seniors with questions regarding their needs and living arrangements.