Getting divorced always involves financial worries. What is the best way to divide marital property? Does either person have assets that are not subject to division? How will you split joint debts? But a poor economy can make the financial stresses of divorce even more difficult to handle.

Many couples who would like to get divorced find themselves waiting out the economic downturn. Falling home values, plummeting retirement accounts and other financial woes all have an impact on the divorce rate in the country.

There are the obvious costs of divorcing like paying an attorney and court filing fees. But in today's economy, many couples also find themselves facing higher legal fees because they cannot come to an agreement.

The stress that accompanies lost savings and job worries is leading couples to have a harder time coming to agreements about how to divide property and debt. This can be costly. For example, a couple that spend hours fighting over who would keep the leaf blower spent more on attorneys fees during those arguments than they would have spent to buy a new leaf blower.

That sounds trivial, but when it comes to spending hours and hours fighting over each piece of property, couples who consider the amount they are paying attorneys each hour may find it easier to come to an agreement more quickly. 

There is another factor that contributes to lower divorce rates during poor economies. Couples who have seen their homes, retirement accounts and savings lose value are often reluctant to take the hit. Many choose to wait it out, hoping for a better economy in which to sell the house or divide stocks. One couple has been waiting since 2007 to divorce because they have seen their assets fall so much.

For spouses that are staying in an unhappy marriage because of the poor economy, there may be affordable divorce options. An experienced family law attorney can help couples work together to come to a divorce agreement that does not break the bank.

Source: Wallstreet Journal, "Breaking Up Without Breaking the Bank," Mary Pilon, 28 Aug 2010