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Low-income couples choose long-term separation over divorce

According to a recent study, many married couples are choosing a long-term separation rather than divorce simply because they believe that divorce is too expensive and they would not be able to afford paying for it. Religious background does not appear to affect that choice. The survey included more than 7,000 people across the United States who had been married.

Overall, 80 percent of respondents who decided for marital separation eventually divorced, usually within three years; 5 percent tried reconciliation. However, 15 percent of these marriages did not end in divorce or reconciliation. These people were generally ethnic minorities with low income, little education and had younger children.

Divorce is not often seen as an option due to the possibility of loss of financial support, especially if young children are involved. The fear is that if a couple divorces, one spouse may be unable or unwilling to provide support. When other studies are correlated with the findings, the trend seems to be that such long-term separations may be decreasing in number even as they increase in length. It is believed that they may remain the normal alternative for divorce as long as economic hardships continue.

To make long-term separations work for a couple they should consider ironing out the details of their present arrangement. This may be best accomplished with the help of a family law attorney. Matters such as spousal and child support would be normally settled in a divorce, but a couple may even draw up a contract as to how child care and joint finances will work and how to handle any problems as they come up. Not only will this keep the separation reasonably peaceful, it allows for beginning negotiations should a divorce eventually be sought.

Source: Psych Central, "Many Separated Couples Cannot Afford Divorce," Traci Pedersen, September 17, 2012

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