Two Trends in Divorce

The Christian Science Monitor has a good article in today’s edition about divorce, reporting two separate trends affecting divorce in America. Here’s the article.

The first trend is the consideration by several states of measures that force divorcing couples to take longer to end their marriage, typically in the form of waiting periods between the time a divorce complaint is filed and the date the divorce decree can become effective. Alabama has had a 30 day waiting period for divorces for several years. 30 days isn’t particularly burdensome, and I have seen perhaps three couples (out of approximately 1,200 cases I’ve handled while the waiting period has been in effect) decide to delay their divorce during the waiting period. Georgia is cconsidering lengthening the required waiting period from 30 days to 120 days. I can’t tell you what this would do to the divorce rate (I suspect little or nothing), but I can assure you it would drive up the cost of divorce for those who can least afford it.

The second trend, according to the article, is the growing popularity of the use of some kind of collaborative model for the resolution of divorce issues. In my world, there’s much conversation about collaborative law and how it can reduce pain for divorcing parties (and in particular for their children). I’m confident this would be true in contrast to adversarial divorce. There’s no question, however, that a “collaborative” divorce is far more expensive than an uncontested divorce. Uncontested divorce is by far the most common way people divorce. It’s also the least expensive (unless they file pro se).

If you ask me, the kindest gift we can offer to the hapless parties going through divorce would be to make uncontested divorce as simple and as painless as possible. I realize I’m swimming upstream on this, but I know what divorcing parties are going through. It’s not pretty, and I can assure that divorce is not “too easy.” It’s painful, it’s expensive, and it’s slow. In the roughly 3,000 divorce cases I’ve handled, I can’t remember more than one or two where I thought either of the spouses was rushing into divorce.