Increasingly, marriage is becoming a less popular option for couples, particularly in the wake of the economic recession. Research shows that today’s young adults are currently projected to have the lowest rates of marriage by age 40 of any generation. This would mean that in 20 years, more than 30% of women around the age of 40 would be unmarried, nearly twice the number of unmarried women currently in that age gap. And as marriage rates decrease, divorce rates likewise continue to increase, suggesting a serious change in family structures and social relationships in the future.
For the moment, however, divorce is still a serious and potentially devastating event that changes everything from a person’s current lifestyle to their plans for the future. Divorce proceedings are typically portrayed as simultaneously angry and cruel, as the former spouses argue over their shared assets. However, if you are going through a divorce, you’ve likely realized that other provisions are just as important as your economic stability: questions of visitation, family events, and even pet ownership prove that value is not always related to finances.
This estimation of worth is slowly becoming a more prominent feature of the divorce process, and may be tied to the way society has progressed, particularly in regards to women’s rights and positions in the workforce. While it has been suggested, even commonly accepted, that women who have equivalent or greater education and professional success than their husbands are more likely to experience divorce, a report published by the American Sociological Review suggests that men are marrying and divorcing women with the same or greater level of educational and professional success at the same rate as the rest of the population. This increasingly common relationship dynamic is extending to divorce: if both spouses are employed, they are less likely to be concerned with their finances than they are with their house, their children, and other assets with sentimental rather than traditional value.
With this change, it is now recommended that former couples approach their divorce in a new way: firstly, by setting short needs and long term goals, and knowing the difference between the two. For example, while you may want to keep the house, it may not be feasible for you to pay the mortgage, taxes and other fees without your former partner’s income. While you may feel the need to retain some sense of continuity in the shaky first months after your divorce, keeping the house could be disastrous to your long-term financial security and emotional well being.
Secondly, it is important to develop clear objectives to share with all concerned parties before or during a divorce. While this can be difficult, and may require you to consult a professional to help communicate your points to your former spouse, clear communication is the best way for both sides to compromise and make it through the process with your long term goals in place. “An easy divorce” may be a contradictory statement, but increasing the communication during the process will likely help you move on to your next stage of life.
In some cases, it may be advisable have what is called a collaborative divorce in order to provide much-needed structure. In most cases, this requires a couple to commit to work with each other, their divorce lawyers, and a team of neutral professionals to reach a mutually agreed conclusion. This can be especially helpful when children are involved; because traditional litigation is decided by a judge who knows nothing about you, your family, or your lifestyle, it can often take longer to reach a conclusion and uses up a couple’s resources at a faster rate. However, if collaborating with your former partner is not possible, traditional litigation may be preferable.
Divorce is one of the most difficult experiences a person can undergo, and its effects can change a person’s life. However, by considering what you truly value and keeping your short term needs and long term goals separate, it is often possible to find a way onto a healthier path. Set some clear objectives and keep yourself open to compromise: by working efficiently and communicating effectively, as well as working with your team, you can quickly be on your way to a new, better life.