"The Unseen Costs of Divorce" by Verspoor Waalkes Grand Rapids family law lawyers

During an initial consultation with a prospective client asking about divorce, my clients and I consider the benefits, costs, and alternatives.  Usually, the benefits of a divorce are obvious.  For example, if the other party is abusive, divorce provides protection.  However, often, the costs and alternatives are less clear.

Here are some costs to consider:

  • Divorce is hard on children.  Even children in unhappy homes are used to having two parents around.  You and your children might have to change neighborhoods, friends, and schools, which will disrupt your children’s routines.
  • Divorce hurts finances. It increases expenses, but not necessarily incomes.  After a divorce, there are two residences and two sets of kid’s clothes. If one spouse was the breadwinner, the dependent spouse will likely have to start working. The breadwinner needs to realize that the dependent spouse is usually entitled to half of the assets acquired during the marriage.  Additionally, divorces themselves can be expensive.
  • Divorce impacts business. In equity, a spouse owns half of the other spouse’s business interest. Disclosing financial records is cumbersome, reducing efficiency.
  • Religion impacts divorce.  Some religious traditions forbid divorce.  People concerned about this should consider separate maintenance. This decides custody, parenting time, child support, and property issues, but does not divorce you.  In addition, some religious traditions forbid remarriage. Divorce makes followers of such traditions single parents.

There are alternatives to divorce. People get divorced to solve a problem.  Therefore, it is important to define the problem and determine whether there is an alternative way to solve it.  For example, counseling is an alternative to divorce, which works for some couples.  Simply improving communication skills within your marriage might (and often can) effect the needed change.

Those are some topics we discuss during an initial consultation.  In addition to legal advice, you should obtain counsel from multiple sources. Talk to your pastor, priest, rabbi, or other spiritual leader. Talk to trusted family and friends. Determine their perspective on divorce in your particular situation. After thorough consideration, you can confidently proceed.