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Divorce In a Recession

Jun 13, 2022 | Written by: Diana N. Fredericks, Esq. |

The last few years have been particularly challenging for most of us; the global pandemic has challenged our relationships, finances, and overall health.  Now, as we hopefully rebound from those challenges, many are forecasting a recession.  In a time when inflation is at a forty-year high, many of us are paying more than $5.00 for a gallon of gas, and groceries seem to have doubled in cost, you may think that now is not a good time to engage in a divorce.  The reality is that there is never really a “good” time to engage in a divorce, but choosing to wait it out can be extremely detrimental for the reasons set forth below.

Candidly, there is rarely a good time to go through a divorce, as it can be an extremely difficult time financially, emotionally, and overall.   However, I often hear from clients who delay proceeding (for various reasons) that they wish they had done so sooner rather than waiting.  In my experience, those clients who take the initial step to have a consultation almost always end up returning at some point, and by the time they return, things have only worsened and the proverbial “other shoe” has dropped.  For example, someone loses their job, addiction or mental health issues have escalated, etc.  Often, had they initiated the divorce in the first instance, rather than waiting, they would have saved legal fees because, by waiting, they are in damage-control mode.

If you are in a position where you are researching divorce and you are reading this blog, you have likely thought a lot about why your relationship is not working for you.  Spending the time for a consultation to understand your rights is a form of self-care that more people should probably consider.  How can you say you cannot afford to get divorced without consulting an expert?  There are many creative ways to address issues, such as alternative dispute resolution, etc., to try to keep costs reasonable while fairly negotiating a settlement.  Invest in your future by understanding what a divorce might look like for you.

Waiting for the economy to rebound seems like an exercise in futility.  For example, if you are a victim of domestic violence, you should not jeopardize your safety (or that of your children) because of the state of the economy.  Moreover, perpetrators of domestic violence may become more aggressive when finances are strained.  The reality is there is never a “good” time to get a divorce.

If you are fearful that there are less assets to distribute because of a bad market, or concerned about the ability to sell a home, those are valid and reasonable concerns, however, this writer does not suggest that either are reasons to stay in a marriage and forgo moving forward.   Markets will crash and rebound.  Interest rates will rise and fall.  These are unfortunate realities we all face, however, if we have learned anything after the last few years, it is that tomorrow is not promised to any of us.  Life is short and everyone deserves to find peace and happiness in their lives.  My experience in doing this type of work exclusively for the last sixteen years is that clients are often relieved at the conclusion of their divorces, and they choose to move forward despite the challenges. 

That is not to imply divorce is easy; it is not.  It often gets harder before it gets better, but there is a conclusion and an ability to move forward in life on your own terms.  A bad economy is not a reason to stay in a bad marriage. 

There may also be positive benefits as a result of a financial downturn.  For example, if you want to purchase your spouse’s interest in the marital home, perhaps we are going to see lesser market values, making a buyout more manageable.  Conversely, if interest rates are rising, refinancing a mortgage may feel daunting.  There are many facets to each issue that you should discuss with an attorney to make an educated decision as to what is best for you.

Ultimately, there are pros and cons to all facets of a divorce, like life.  These are major decisions with consequences for you and your family that your divorce attorney must appreciate.  These issues should be thoughtfully discussed in a comprehensive consultation with a certified matrimonial attorney who is familiar with the issues and understands how the rise and fall of the market can affect your divorce.  Do not assume that you cannot afford to get divorced or that now is not a good time.  There is never a good time, but if you start this process today, you could be divorced by the time you wait out whatever the world’s financial future may hold.

Diana Fredericks, Esq.


Diana N. Fredericks, Esq., devotes her practice solely to family law matters.  She is a Certified Matrimonial Law Attorney and was named to the NJ Super Lawyers Rising Stars list in the practice of family law by Thomson Reuters in 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020 and 2021, and to the New Leaders of the Bar list by the New Jersey Law Journal in 2015.  Contact Ms. Fredericks for a consultation at 908-735-5161 or via email.

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Any statements made herein are solely for informational purposes only and should not be relied upon or construed as legal advice.