Marriages go up and down with the economy
Tough times makes for tough relationships, says Robert J. Lewis, Esq., a divorce lawyer at Davidoff Hutcher & Citron LLP, in New York City. “Finances are one of the main stresses on a relationship and I saw a lot of fights over money during the recession of 2008,” he explains. But paradoxically this may offer some protection to fragile relationships as divorce rates declined slightly in the America during the Great Recession of the last decade. Why? It’s simple, Lewis says: Two households are always more expensive than one and in tough times practically trumps love.
It’s not about the 20-year-old hottie
Do you feel like a 40 changed in for two 20’s? The stereotype of an older man leaving his wife for a younger woman is true, but not for the reason you think. “He’s not leaving you for someone younger and hotter, he’s leaving you for someone less critical,” Lewis says. Everyone wants a partner who makes them feel special and wanted and it’s easy to forget that when you’ve been married for 20 years. Spouses take each other for granted and forget what they love about each other until someone else comes along and points it out. So generally when a spouse leaves you for someone else, Lewis explains, it’s not only for superficial reasons but because they want someone who they feel is supportive and appreciative of them. You can short-circuit that (and save the money you’d pay a divorce lawyer) by taking time every day to remember why you first fell in love with your spouse and let them know you appreciate them.
Too many people get into relationships without having any idea of the other person’s financial situation and that causes huge problems down the road, Lewis says. For this reason, he tells all couples to at least consider drawing up a pre-nuptial agreement—even if you don’t end up signing official papers it still forces you to have a serious conversation about your assets, your earning potential, and your financial expectations. Done right, these conversations can strengthen your relationship by preventing arguments down the road and removing uncertainty.
Infidelity isn’t the real issue
Cheating is a symptom of a relationship already on the rocks. “The person who was cheated on will say it’s all the cheater’s fault, but it is usually indicative of deeper issues,” Lewis explains. “Cheating isn’t ever justified but it doesn’t happen in a vacuum.” So if you or your mate are tempted to stray, it’s time to take a serious look at the foundation of your relationship and repair the cracks.
Save the drama, mama
“In most states, divorce courts really don’t care who’s at fault for your relationship problems,” Lewis says, adding that most of the time the court doesn’t even want to know who did what to whom. “Sob stories won’t impact the court’s decision about money, spousal support, or custody, unless it specifically impacts the well-being of the kids.”
Think before you text
Any time you’re tempted to fire off an angry text or an incensed email, consider how it will sound read aloud in front of a courtroom full of people, Lewis advises. “Everything in writing can be used against you and in this age of the internet nothing is ever private,” he says. Even if your rants don’t end up in front of a judge they could be read by your kids someday, and that would feel even worse.
Divorce isn’t about punishment
It’s easy to look at divorce as a way to make your spouse pay—literally and figuratively—but exacting your pound of flesh isn’t the point, Lewis says. “People want their spouse to experience consequences or repercussions from the bad things they did but divorce courts aren’t for punishment but rather to divide assets and set custody,” he says. “That’s it.”
Publicly shaming your partner will backfire
Nothing feels better than having the court of public opinion on your side, especially when you feel sorely wronged by your partner. But before you go airing all your dirty laundry, consider how it will affect you and your children, Lewis says. He points out that speaking bad about your partner could hurt their business which in turn could hurt their ability to pay you. And if you reveal your spouse committed a crime, like under-reporting taxes, you may be liable too. Not to mention how quickly the public can turn and the support you thought you were getting might then work against you. “Either way, it’s really of no benefit to you, so just don’t do it,” he adds.
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