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Does Financial Inequality Cause Unfair “Folding” During Divorce Litigation?

Posted on in Divorce

financial inequalityA recent article in Daily Telegraph analyzes what it calls the "poker effect" on divorces. The poker reference refers to the cost-benefit analysis a person conducts when choosing whether or not to fold. Poker players who are winning tend to be more willing to take risks than those who are down to their last few chips. Losing poker players are more likely to fold sooner and get out of the game, taking a minor loss to preserve what little money they have left. According to this theory in the divorce law context, the rising cost of divorce causes the financially weaker party to "fold" and accept an unfair settlement sooner.

Effect of Finances on Early "Folding"

According to one experienced family law practitioner in the United Kingdom, while the divorce process is less drawn out than it once was, the process is arguably less fair. The financially less well-off party, who statistically tends to be the wife, is more likely to accept a settlement that she doesn't believe is fair due to the threat of legal fees. This has become more significant of a problem since legal aid has recently begun to play less of a role in family law cases, forcing divorcing parties to pay more out of pocket to settle divorce-related disputes.

The article goes on to discuss that women (at least in the U.K.) are more likely to be hurt by quick divorce settlements than men, as men are statistically the higher wage earners. However, financial contributions from family and friends of both parties may also play a role. Regardless of the source, the party with more money may be more likely to compel an unwilling opponent to settle.

The Effect of Age on Divorce

The attorney who was interviewed in the article added that the fact that divorces generally involve older couples can also separately explain the trend of folding sooner. In England, the average age of divorcing couples has increased by seven years since the mid 1980s, mirroring a trend of couples marrying later. In the United States there is a similar trend. According to The Census Bureau, the median age of those entering into their first marriage in 1980 was 24.7 for men and 22 for women. As of 2010, the median age for men entering a first marriage is now 28.2 and for women it is 26.1, showing an approximate four-year increase in the past three decades.

The fact that divorcing couples are older than they used to be may be an influencing factor in terms of having more maturity and better skills at resolving conflict. However, this is not always a contributing factor. As the divorce lawyer in the article noted, even the most rational individuals when blindsided by a divorce may become irrational and stubborn. On this view, people further into their career may have more to lose financially and proprietarily from protracted divorce disputes, and are consequently becoming more guarded about dissipating their assets with court costs.

Contact a Divorce Attorney to Learn Your Options

At Kathryn L. Harry & Associates, P.C., we are experienced in handling divorce cases that settle before going to court. Regardless of the financial inequality between parties, we are skillful at using the law to leverage our clients' interests during settlement negotiation. For more information on how you can maximize your interests in divorce regardless of your financial situation, we encourage you to contact the Naperville family law attorneys at our Oak Brook law office at 630-472-9700.

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