Report: Bad Economy Keeping 'Troubled' Marriages Together

     The bad economy strikes again. This time – it’s marital relationships, or people’s ability to end them.

     NBC’s July 11 “Today” found an unlikely victim of the economic slowdown – divorce rates. According to the segment, the high cost of divorce is keeping some couple together.

     “[W]hile the price of divorce normally doesn’t run that high, there is evidence the troubled economy is forcing some troubled couples to stay together, at least for the time being,” NBC’s “Today” co-host Natalie Morales said.

     Robi Ludwig, a psychotherapist and contributing editor for Cookie magazine offered anecdotal evidence. She told Morales she’s seen it firsthand, but offered it as good news because it forces couples to reconsider before rushing to judgment.

     “Just the other day, I had a woman say to me, ‘My God – I can’t stand my husband. Every day I just want to leave him, but I can’t afford it,'” Ludwig said to “Today.” “[S]o they are deciding to stay together and in some ways it can be good, because a lot of people get divorced impulsively and maybe prematurely. So it is forcing some couples to re-look at their relationship and maybe not act so quickly.”

     According to Farnoosh Torabi, a correspondent for the financial Web site, it’s not only the initial cost to get the divorce, but the residual costs that result from the divorce.

     “The legal fees, for one [are a reason it is so expensive to get divorced],” Torabi said to “Today.” “And on top of that, after the divorce, you’ve got to think about, ‘How am I going to get health insurance? How now are we going to afford to go from one household to two households paying for that?”

      Torabi noted Miami-Dade County, Fla., where the home value decline has been one of the highest in the nation, but has also had a decline in divorces.

     “[F]or example, we’ll take the Miami-Dade County – for example – in south Florida. They had an 18 percent drop-off in divorce filings from January to May of this year, compared to the same period last year,” Farnoosh said. “[I]ncidentally, also in that same area, real estate prices have fallen 20 percent."

     She told Morales that has had an impact because a couple’s home is usually their largest asset.

     “When you talk about real estate and a divorce – the house is often the biggest financial asset. And when you’ve lost equity in that home or you have negative equity – before couples were selling the house and splitting the profits. Now that’s simply not a reality for many households.”