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Cost Effective Divorce in a Recession

Just as fuel efficient cars become more popular during a period of high fuel prices, cost effective legal representation in divorce cases becomes a welcome path for people looking to end their marriages. The Law Offices of Michael F. Roe has consistently advocated cooperative, mediated, and collaborative divorce as a lower cost, efficient, and low stress means of helping divorcing parties complete their divorce in a financially healthy way, even in a deep recession.

The deepening recession, increased unemployment, and a stalled housing market have negatively impacted most parties’ financial situations. Many divorcing couples’ homes are “under water” because of declining values and high mortgages. Other divorcing couples who are fortunate enough to have equity in their most significant marital asset, their home, cannot sell their house due to the slow real estate market. Combine that with the plummeting values of retirement accounts, and we are looking at marital asset balance sheets that are nothing less than bleak.

Although, historically, divorce rates tend to rise during a bad economy, divorce attorneys nationwide have noticed a change in the legal landscape. Some experts attribute the decline in divorce filings to the severity of the economic downturn. Typically, a recession results in decreased divorce rates for couples with limited financial resources. The prospect of incurring expenses for two households seems overwhelming for those with limited resources. On the other hand, high net-worth clients may seek to take advantage of the diminished value of their homes, stock and investment portfolios, and businesses to decrease their overall financial liability to their soon-to-be ex-spouse.

When the marital residence or small business is the most significant marital asset, the party who is able to retain the house or business may reap a significant benefit down the road, rather than the one who is compensated by cash or other assets, because the value of the house or business is likely to increase once the economy recovers.

If the main problems are financial in nature, involving marital asset division or support alternatives, the parties and attorneys should collaborate and cooperate is seeking resolution along the lines that the judges employ. Introducing a neutral financial planner to work with the parties may move things in the right direction. When the primary sticking points center on custody issues, the assistance of a parenting coordinator or custody mediator or evaluator could prove cost effective.

Today’s economy requires clients to divorce in a cost-effective manner. Although some cases are destined to go to litigation, parties should attempt to utilize alternative methods of resolution prior to taking this final leap. Mediation, and a form of the collaborative law model are just a few possibilities.

Partial content credit to: Georgia Family Law Blog