Economy keeps Maryland couples together, for better or worse

Maryland’s fairly low divorce rate has fallen even lower over the past decade, according to new data. Maryland currently has a 9.4 percent divorce rate, the fifth lowest in the nation. One reason for this drop, say analysts, may be the poor economy, according to an NBC report.

When times are tough, the theory goes, people are less able to pay for a divorce and divide their assets, as well as less willing to venture out on their own. Contested divorce can be expensive, and some Baltimore residents may be more likely to stay together than pay the costs of splitting up, according to the report.

However, Maryland’s no-fault and uncontested divorce laws can be very helpful options for those who may be struggling financially.

No-fault divorce allows couples to break ties without having to prove spousal wrongdoing. Having to prove things such as abuse or adultery in court can be pricey, not to mention painful and embarrassing. No-fault divorce helps to reduce both the personal and financial costs associated long, drawn out litigation.

Additionally, uncontested divorce is less expensive, less stressful and costs less money than contested divorce. In an uncontested divorce, you typically will not have to go to court and pay the fees related to a hearing in front of a judge. This is generally possible after a one-year period of separation. If you have a skilled family law attorney, and both parties can agree on major issues, an uncontested divorce can be a great option.

Though it is apparently common, financial hardship is a questionable reason for staying trapped in an unhealthy marriage. Additional strategies, such as legal separation or private mediation, are available as inexpensive and effective ways to go your separate ways. Private mediation takes place outside of the courtroom, with a professional mediator helping the two parties come to an agreement. The informality helps achieve a mutually beneficial outcome compared to an adversarial court trial.

Source: NBC, “Divorce rate falling nationwide,” John Wist, Feb. 8, 2012