Some couples, especially those with children, fear the financial sting of a divorce
While we may talk about divorce from the movie star's perspective – the jetting to a far-away locale to escape the other half and paparazzi – there is still a very large contingent of poor people who can't even get a divorce, let alone away from the other party.
That's according to a recently released study by Ohio State University. They followed 7,272 people between 1979 and 2008 and found that those who separated from a spouse reported getting a divorce within three years of the break up. However, 15 percent of people who separated didn't divorce within the first 10 years. When posed with the question of why, researchers found that there was an economic angle to it – they couldn't afford to, especially if the couple had kids. However, when it got too bad, the couple usually turned the marriage into a permanent separation.
"Long-term separation seems to be the low-cost, do-it-yourself alternative to divorce for many disadvantaged couples," said Dmitry Tumin, co-author of the study and a doctoral student in sociology at Ohio State University. "Separation may not be their first choice, but they may feel it is their best choice."
It's not all people on the lower economic shelf, though. More recently, more people on the higher tax bracket are eschewing divorces because they didn't properly prepare for the situation beforehand. Between penalties levied and tax burdens raised, as well as the benefits of shared real estate, retirement savings and health care coverage, some well-off couples are keeping the last name, but moving on with their lives.
Most of this can be settled with proper pre-marriage financial counseling, and creating a back-up plan for everyone involved in case your marriage goes south. It's never too late, however to talk to an attorney to give you the proper guidance in these situations. While there might be some hurt feelings in the short-term, living forever with someone you don't want to any more because of bad planning is even worse.