“Quitting” Your Marriage: Bad Idea

“Quitting” Your Marriage: Bad Idea

marriage and collegeElisabeth Clonts & McKenzie Wallentine

Attending a university is a way for people to increase their knowledge and better their lives. Going to college for the first time can be scary because of the new experience, and the unknown reality of what the future holds. A person intends to use their knowledge gained for the rest of their life, not to forget all the information they learned. Money is also an investment when furthering your education. Like with college, a person does not enter into a marriage without desiring and hoping for the best out of the experience.

Generally, no one would think about divorce on the day they marry their spouse. Hopes and plans for the future flood their mind as they make the promise to spend the rest of their life with this individual. So why are nearly half of marriages in America ending in divorce?  Especially if one considers that the average cost of divorce in America is approximately $20,000.  Just like dropping out of college early, ending a marriage is financially costly. There are numerous expenses that are included in this high dollar amount that are such as: lawyer fees, child support, and alimony. When a student quits college, they’re aware of the negative consequences, but decide that for whatever reason, they are worth it. When people end their marriages, they are essentially saying that the negative repercussions are worth it for them to be single again.

Divorce costs can be through the roof. Lawyer fees on average range from 200-300 dollars an hour.  The average amount paid in child support per month can be anywhere from 20-40% of the net income. With that, the average amount paid in alimony per month can be as much as 20% of income. Are people thinking of all the expenses that will have to be made in order to be divorced from their spouse? Maybe people would re-think divorce if they knew what was really down the road for them.

Thinking back to a personal experience with divorce, I remember when my friend’s parents got divorced. They would fight more about the cost of the divorce than why they were actually getting divorced. It was recommended for them to go to divorce classes and talk about what should be included in their offers so they didn’t have to go back and forth through lawyers with counteroffers hiking up the price of the divorce. It’s interesting that divorce classes were considered easier than marriage counseling. No one would encourage someone thinking of quitting college to go to a class that teaches you how to do it in the most pain-free way possible.

The cost of attending a divorce class in Utah is $35 per person, and the fee for the marriage orientation course is $20 per person. My friend’s parents were rather ruthless with each other and her mom refused to talk with her dad until she had permission from her lawyer. This really slowed down the process of the divorce. Whenever her dad would send an offer, she would send back a counteroffer changing miniscule things. When all was said and done, the divorce ended up costing them both much more than it should have. The aftermath of the divorce is still in effect as well. Her mom was a stay at home mom for 30 years and never got a college degree. Her father was the sole provider. This could have forced her mom to receive government aid, but instead she gets alimony and child support. This has a positive impact on her, but a negative impact on my friend’s dad. He now spends more money on alimony and child support than he needed to support an intact family before. He is supporting two households instead of one.

Not only does divorce affect the family, but the economy also suffers from the negative effects of divorce.  According to a 2010 study by the U.S. Census Bureau the percentage of married couple families living in poverty was 6.2%. For single-parent households in that same year, the poverty rate was 27.3%, and for single mother households, the poverty rate was 29.9%. Most of these people are on welfare because they are unable to provide for themselves and their families. American tax payers on average spend roughly nine cents of every dollar earned toward welfare.

In the U.S. there are many benefits to being married.  Because of the importance of married families the government provides special benefits and incentives. When you file your taxes together, several outcomes are available to you, H&R Block explains that if you file taxes jointly as a married couple, additional tax benefits might exist that you would not be eligible for if you and your spouse filed taxes as single individuals. Social Security benefits entitle you to half of a spouse’s social security benefits. Also, if your spouse has medical coverage you can participate in their coverage.

My dad is self-employed and my mother is a nurse-practitioner and they have benefited financially because they are married. Because of their career choices my dad does not have medical benefits and it would be very costly for him to purchase it on his own. My mom has very good insurance and because they are married, my dad is automatically covered on her plan if something should happen to him. When you end your marriage, you lose those benefits, just like you lose the benefits of university attendance when you leave (for example, society memberships, affiliations with certain organizations etc.)

Getting a degree from a college is a financially smarter decision than not getting an education.  Similarly the costs of quitting a marriage (divorce) compared to staying married are far higher.  There are circumstances where divorce is necessary, but the vast majority (two-thirds) divorce originates from low-conflict, supposedly unhappy marriages. In the midst of divorce, it would be wise for other options to be encouraged and considered. Many programs, books, and counselors are available for resources, and as a society, we should encourage couples to repair their marriages rather than to end them.

Elisabeth Clonts is a senior at BYU-Idaho majoring in Marriage and Family Studies rooted from the wild rose country of Ontario Canada. Her interest vary from taking luxurious baths to brutal games of water polo. After her time at BYUI she hopes to attend graduate school in Student Affairs. This was quoted from her recently, ” I want to do all I can to make a difference in the world.” 

 McKenzie Wallentine is a senior at BYU-Idaho majoring in Marriage and Family Studies. She enjoys almost anything outdoors and loves new adventures. She believes that the family is the most fundamental unit of society. One day she hopes to be a wonderful mother and an advocate of the traditional family.

References

Finn, A. (2013). Government benefits of marriage. Retrieved from http://www.ehow.com/info_7749110_government-benefits-marriage.html#ixzz2i0V8INEG

Matthews, R. (2012). 27.3% of Single Parent households live in poverty. Retrieved from http://www.policymic.com/articles/11316/27-3-of-single-parent-households-live-in-poverty

McDonald, K. (2001). The cost of divorce. Retrieved from http://www.bankrate.com/brm/news/advice/19990903a.asp

 

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