Divorce On The Rise in Shrinking Middle Class

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Much has been made of the division of classes in America in recent months, with the “Occupy Wall Street” movement attempting to turn the “99 percent” against the “1 percent.” Divorce can be emotionally draining and painful regardless of the couple’s income level, but why is divorce on the rise in shrinking middle class?

The United States now has the sixth highest divorce rate in the world. Some researchers now estimate that 41 percent of all first marriages will end in divorce. The also say that statistically about 60 percent of second marriages, and 73 percent of all third marriages will end in divorce. That is still an overall divorce rate of about fifty percent.

Relationship issues can become additionally stressful if finances are tight.

The New York Times recently reported that a new study has found that the middle class is quickly dwindling and most people are either living in an affluent neighborhood or a low-income neighborhood. The study, based on U.S. Census data, found that over the last four decades, the number of families living in middle-class neighborhoods has dwindled, from 65 percent in 1970 to 44 percent today.

The report also stated that a third of American families lived in an “affluent” area, up from 15 percent in 1970, showing that the gap has increased. Is divorce on there rise in shrinking middle class in part because of finances?

More couples are dividing debt rather than assets.

The division of debt rather than assets was first reported in recent article out of Worcester, Mass. It was also found that many couples have delayed divorce because of the financial implications. Some people have waited for the economy to change and because it hasn’t, they’re now moving forward with plans to divorce.

In some cases,  attempting mediation can be more cost-effective than a contested divorce, depending on the circumstances of the marriage. At any rate, living in an unhappy home may not be worth the wait. In each case, a New York City divorce attorney should be consulted to help ensure that your rights are protected — as well as your long-term financial well-being. Aggressively pursuing a divorce and working to get child support and alimony payments, when applicable, can ensure a spouse is relatively stable for years to come, regardless of the unstable economy.

Splitting retirement accounts and investments is also critical. While stocks have been up and down, losing out on these long-term investments can be crippling financially and attempting to re-open the divorce years later if the other spouse profits from those investments may not be possible. Getting the biggest asset (the house) may not be nearly the deal it once was.

Other divorce issues that matter, middle class or not.

In just about any divorce, the splitting spouses are focused on the division of assets. That’s the first thing that comes to mind. For couples with children, child custody may top the list. But there is more to a divorce than those two issues alone.

With joblessness, a house in foreclosure and retirement savings being gobbled up just to stay afloat, the process is even more important to get right. The reality is a poorly executed divorce can leave one or both parties struggling; in some cases, the standard-of-living of one or both parties can be materially impacted by the outcome of a divorce case.

An experienced divorce lawyer understands that the tax implications, division of debt, calculation of child support or alimony payments and a host of other issues also must come into play. An attorney will be able to assess the individual’s situation and work to ensure the financial outcome is as beneficial as possible once the divorce is finalized.

Taking all these things into consideration is important when looking at how to ensure a stable financial future.

By Sean Smallwood, ESQ., guest writer.

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