Thursday, September 25, 2008

Marriage In Recession

Used to be that women in third world countries had to tolerate abusive and even violent husbands because they lacked the wherewithal to leave them. They had been married so their parents would need to feed one mouth less. It just would not work economically for her to go back home with or out without kids even without the huge amount of social pressure such a move would bring in its wake.

When I read this article about
divorce being the latest luxury in America, I had to wonder if recession if deep and long enough would turn the clock back on the emancipated women of the West by a couple of hundred years. But as with every cloud, thanks to the creativity of divorce attorneys even this situation has a silver lining. If you are too broke to split up and go solo, you could at least sign a "cohabitation agreement" which is defined thusly:

A cohabitation agreement includes an understanding of each partner’s responsibilities for financial issues, a projected date of separation, the value of assets and debts, how much of each asset and debt each partner gets, a plan for living in the same house, custody arrangements, child care expenses and can even include issues about dating.

Except for the custody arrangements and dating expenses bit, that reads like the state of many a less than perfect marriage. You have to assume that the separation of heart and soul has already taken place in such a marriage so there is no date to project.

1 comment:

Sam Hasler said...

Nice post but there are a couple of inaccuracies.

First, reading the original article, there is talk of a separation agreement. Many states have legal separation statutes. There is still a court proceeding and all of that but no final division of property or of children. I practice family law in Indiana and have not seen the increase of separation work. I put that down to the strangeness of our legal separation statute.

Second, there is a real difference between a legal separation agreement and a cohabitation agreement. A cohabitation agreement generally covers people who are not married while a legal separation agreement covers only married people (at least, in Indiana).

Third, I am unaware of any state that does not have a statute where the court may order one spouse to pay the other spouse's attorney fees. The reason for this kind of statute is to avoid the precise situation you describe in your post - the more economically powerful spouse abusing the other financially. A little ray of sunshine on a gloomy subject.