A recent study on the impact of the recession on family trends had some troubling results in the areas of divorce and domestic violence. The Recession Led to More Domestic Violence – but Fewer Divorces, by Philip Cohen, The Atlantic, December 15, 2014. Specifically, the study out of the Department of Sociology at the University of Maryland found a sharp decrease in the divorce rate in 2009, which the researcher says, “can be reasonably attributed to the recession.” At the same time, intimate partner domestic violence increased, which the researcher found coincided with a rise in men’s unemployment rates.
What we seem to have here is a “perfect storm”: unemployed spouses who are spending more time together + stress from financial hardship + unable to get away from each other through divorce or separation because they cannot afford to = increase in domestic violence. These results are extremely troubling because they suggest that people are financially trapped in violent marriages. Certainly in times of financial stress people cut out on many of life’s luxuries. If a person loses their job, he/she may no longer be able to afford the luxury of going on a vacation or owning a second home. Consider the case of divorce: one household has to split into two, which means one person will need a new place to live. Add to that the additional cost of extra utilities, insurance and legal fees, and divorce can quickly become cost prohibitive for some couples. All of the sudden many couples cannot afford the “luxury” of divorce.
If you are one of these couples financially trapped in a marriage, consider visiting Fulton County’s Family Law Information Center. Even if you are not in Fulton county, the documents on their website may help you navigate the world of divorce without an attorney. If you are able to, consider meeting with a divorce attorney for a consultation. Most family law attorneys offer a consultation at their hourly rate, and discussing your case with an attorney for an hour may give you ideas that you otherwise would not have thought of. Certainly if you are financially trapped in a violent marriage, you should seek the help of family and friends. Even staying with a friend or family member for a few weeks may afford you the ability to begin the divorce proceedings. At a minimum, it will get you out of a potentially increasing violent situation.