What Are the Risks of Staying Married?

Family First Legal Group

One of the most common questions about divorce is, "What risk do I have in staying married?” or  “What problems are on the horizon for me?” Some people think, “Well, if I just put it off another 6 or 12 months until things are better, will that be better for me?"

Although this is a common question, it’s impossible to provide an answer for every circumstance across the board. It’s even difficult to say that not staying married is necessarily a better decision. Here are the most common issues when people wait too long before filing for divorce.

Increasing Costs and Expenses

The number one cause of cost more than there should be in a divorce case is hanging on too long. If you're the moneyed spouse or the person that has access to more financial resources, you have to be mindful that every moment you stay married, or have not filed for divorce, the debts your spouse are incurring are still marital debts. Therefore, those are also your debts. So if you have someone on the other side who is not pulling their own weight yet is spending more than you're trying to save, that is going to continue negatively in your direction.

Also if you're the moneyed spouse, you might be potentially paying spousal support. The length of your marriage increases the duration for which you may have to pay alimony. If you’ve been married between zero and seven years, then you're more likely to pay alimony for a very short period of time. A marriage that lasted between seven and seventeen years justifies a longer duration for alimony. There is a gray area for moderate-term marriage where the court can award permanent alimony. For marriages that exceed seventeen years, there's a legal presumption of permanent alimony. Therefore a delay can prejudice you terribly if your marriage has lasted almost seventeen years.

For example, if your marriage has lasted 19 years and your spouse is only in his or her 40s or 50s, you're more likely to defeat that presumption and diminish or eliminate a permanent alimony award. A marriage that’s lasted 25 to 30 years will have a harder time rebutting the presumption of permanent alimony.

So there are genuine financial issues to consider. It is better to file for divorce early to mitigate the negative financial consequences of staying married and filing for divorce later. If you and your spouse decide to reconcile, you can always dismiss the divorce petition and stay married.

You don't have to be a rotten scoundrel and protect your legal and financial interests. The two propositions don't go hand in hand. You can protect yourself and be a kind, loving person. No one should be depleting assets or hiding money. We would never advise or advocate for a client to do that. However, we will use the legal tools available to protect your interests and put you in the best position for you to do as you please with the money to which you are legally entitled.

Furthermore, gratuitousness doesn't end because you get divorced. If your kids need more money or you want to give your spouse more money during tough times, and you feel benevolent, then do it. Nothing will stop you. It is very different than when someone in a black robe who knows very little about you or about your children—albeit well-meaning—tells you how you're going to spend your money and therefore how you're going to spend your life. Because most people trade their time for their money. So you're basically trading your future life for the money to pay someone else. And that may not be what you want to do with the rest of your life.

The Negative Impact on Children

When folks hang on too long—especially with kids involved—their children start to suffer. Kids sometimes go missing, struggle in school, or the parties don't know where they're staying, even though they're local. Although they might be in town, they don't know who's house they’re staying at.

Interestingly enough, the best time to suggest divorce is when the couple is on the cusp of being amicable, friendly, or kind with one another. Because when the parties are getting over that threshold where it's war, problems are going to start mounting and costs start increasing. So if there are kids involved, this is a significant consideration.

So keep it in mind that it's incredibly important to know what you're facing if you delay a case because of some other motivation and the risks that you have on the financial side.

Get Started with Family First Legal Group

The legal team at Family First Legal Group understandings the risks of delay when it comes to divorce. To stem the tide of costs and negative consequences, you should consult one of our knowledgeable family law attorneys about the specifics of your case. We provide compassionate, confidential legal representation that holds your experiences and needs in the highest regard.

Contact Family First Legal Group online or call our office at (239) 319-4441 to arrange a consultation about your case today.

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