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Wednesday, May 20, 2015

The Cost of Divorce

Looking at both sides...

I was driving down the road the other day in a nearby city, and saw a big billboard that said something like, “Divorce attorney…$39.00 non-contested with no children, $95.00 with children.”  I can tell you, those fees wouldn’t have even paid for an HOUR of time with my attorney.  Nope, the attorney’s fees I encountered (as well as many of my readers) was much more than those figures would suggest.  

So how much DOES it cost to get a divorce?

Well, first of all, there are some dollars involved, as is suggested by the sign, as well as by the headlines when the wealthy and famous divorcing reach settlements for millions.  And yet somehow, I think those are actually the smallest costs.  It is the unadvertised costs that make divorce costly. 

In fact, one of the nicest comments I ever received about my books was from an individual who stated that she and her husband were getting a divorce (or about to), and when they read my book, they changed their minds and decided to work things out in their marriage.  While they didn’t explain why, I suspect it was because as they read my first volume, they discovered a lot of things come with a divorce that they didn’t expect or realize, and decided the price was far higher than they anticipated or wanted to pay. 

Staying in a bad relationship has its own cost factor.

Some uncounted costs of divorce could be the children whose inner sense of security and ability to have healthy relationships can be impaired through the process of a divorce.  

Plans for retirement may be drastically altered, as income is reduced and money that once would have been set aside for the future has to be expended in rebuilding life with a new dwelling with all its furnishings.  

One cost that is sometimes encountered, but rarely expected, is the toll taken on the relationship with a child.  This can happen as a child develops a skewed view of what happened or of one parent, either because another parent subtly poisons the child’s thinking or because the age of the child does not allow them to understand the adult issues, and the child never comes to terms with them even when he/she becomes an adult. 

I know of individuals who never saw their child again.  

During the raising of children through divorce, one of the costs is the impairment of the power of discipline, as often a child can play one parent against another or simply choose to pursue what the child wants in the household that will provide it rather than the one that objects.  Within the heart of the person who is divorced, the costs can be the loss of an ability to trust, or the development of a bitter cynicism that limits one’s hopes and dreams.  In some cases, even one’s family can turn against their own family member, viewing the development from outside and drawing conclusions that may or may not be correct.  And some have expressed the feeling of having become a failure, like they have let God or themselves down.

On the other hand, I once had a student in one of my college speech classes who gave a presentation about domestic violence.  She had found an article in a magazine that described a woman who had been beaten by her husband and resisted the impulse to leave, until the day that he hit her in the head with a ball bat, threw her in the back of his car and drove hundreds of miles, with her bleeding in the back, finally dumping her in a strange city where, miraculously, she survived.   She paid a high price to stay in the marriage.  

The children borne of a relationship of domestic abuse incur the cost of viewing an unhealthy marriage leading to heartache as they live out the example they were brought up with.  

Abuse is often passed from generation to generation.  Those who choose to stay in unhealthy marriage with mates who have no desire to make things better pay a cost.  Facing the world with a mask to hide the sadness and disappointment of a partnership that has sucked their life force from them.

Maybe, sometimes, not getting divorced costs more than it is worth, too.

There are also costs, though, to make a marriage work well, and to make things work well post divorce.  

Choosing to be intentional about healthy changes, about growing and facing issues or problems head on is not an easy thing sometimes, but is always an important thing.  

What prices do you pay for what you are pursuing in life?  Are you investing in the best things, and paying whatever it costs to do and be the best you can?  

Very few things in life are as simple as they may appear, but the important ones are worth every effort expended.

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