It seems the weak economy is putting pressure on more than just the stock market these days, as reports from ABC News in Ft. Myers, Florida indicate that divorce attorneys are feeling the pinch too. Records from Lee County Circuit Court show that divorce filings dropped in that one jurisdiction by some 2,000 fewer filings than this time last year. The tough economy may be taking its toll on relationships, but it’s not because couples can’t get along. It seems more unhappily married couples in Florida, and across the rest of the nation, are putting their breakups on hold because they cannot afford to get divorced in these times of financial uncertainty.
Divorce attorneys in Lee County say they have seen a drastic drop in business from divorce cases simply because it costs too much to get a divorce for many couples. Attorneys report that while many couples have begun asking for discounted rates on legal services, others are just not coming in to get legal help at all. The business of divorce has gotten so lean for some attorneys that they are now accepting payment plans from clients who don’t have the $5,000 to $10,000 it usually costs to litigate a contested divorce in the Florida courts.
Financially strapped married couples who want a divorce can’t really get out of a mortgage unless one spouse can afford to buy the other out. If neither has the cash, they may just have to wait until their finances improve before it makes sense to file for a divorce. However, considering the number of homeowners that have no equity in their homes at all due to the failing housing market, many divorcing couples don’t need any cash to buy out their partner because there is nothing to buy. A lack of marital assets may make it easier for some couples to get divorced, but it is probably of little comfort for those couples who can’t afford to pay for a divorce in this economy either.