Spouses may disagree on why a marriage fails, but regardless, about half of all couples choose to divorce. What is commonly seen as a solution to marital problems is more often just another way of introducing more issues into an already stressful situation.
There are pros and cons to filing for divorce. When in the throes of a bad marriage, most parties think about the immediate pros without considering the cons, such as litigation or broader negative consequences for the family, until a divorce is filed.
Based on personal and professional experience, below are the pros and cons of divorce. Consider both before jumping feet first into the family court system.
Pros of Divorce
- Living without fear. If you are in a violent situation, divorce and the family court is your out. No one ever deserves to endure domestic abuse. If you or someone you know is in a dangerous situation, find resources at the National Domestic Violence Hotline.
- End to psychological abuse. Honesty and trust are two pillars of a great marriage. When those are violated, a legal split is warranted. Some reasons cited for mistrust: infidelity, gaslighting, verbal and emotional bullying.
- Freedom. One partner should not control the other. Contrary to images in the media, it is not normal to take orders about how to lead one's personal life, especially with their own friends and hobbies. Without restraints, a divorcé(e) will be able to live their best life.
- Compromise (or the lack thereof). Marriage changes people. Some partners may be able to find commonalities over time, but a divorce may be necessary when both parties are unable to agree on the future of the relationship.
- Open to a new relationship. A relationship that is emotionally unsustainable should not prevent an unhappy couple from pursuing love again. A divorce will allow for the opportunity to build a healthy, rewarding life with someone new.
Cons of Divorce
- The impact on your children. You can lessen the impact on your children by making their needs for security your main priority during and after your divorce. But, make no mistake, divorce is as hard, if not harder on children as it is for parents.
- Finances. A divorce is costly. Both parties will incur legal fees from hiring attorneys, and the additional fees add up when children are involved. The primary parent will often be entitled to child support and, in some cases, spousal support. Additionally, the once-household income will be effectively halved. According to marriage researchers Drs. Linda J. Waite and Maggie Gallagher, “Divorcing individuals would need more than a 30% increase in income, on average, to maintain the same standard of living they had prior to their divorce. About one in five women fall into poverty as a result of divorce. Three out of four divorced mothers don’t receive full payment of child support. Most men experience a loss in their standard of living in the years after a divorce, as well, a loss generally about 10%–40%, depending on circumstances.”
- Emotional pain and stress. As relationships crumble, it is easy to hate the other person for their part in what caused the marriage to fail. Regardless of the problems in the marriage, there are emotional and psychological attachments to your spouse and the family as a unit. To sort through the confusing emotions, it will take time and a good personal support network.
- Changes in third party relationships. Friends and associates of the warring spouses are often impacted by divorce, too. The unit that they came to expect has now been broken, and sometimes other fissures in those relationships will occur. Also, when two partners separate, their families effectively shrink at the departure of in-laws or other relatives.
Marital problems don't have to be the end of the world, or even the end of a relationship; the choice to split requires an informed opinion, especially when thinking long-term. Divorce may seem like a no-brainer, but for the sake of both spouses and their family, everyone should consider the pros and the cons of the decision before they dive in.