While squabbles over money have split up many a marriage, the lingering global recession is helping keep couples together — for better and for worse. More than half of the 1,600 lawyers who responded to a recent American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers survey reported a significant drop in divorce filings since the last quarter of 2008.

“The current economic climate is proving to be far more unforgiving than estranged couples seeking a divorce,” said AAAML president Gary Nickelson.

Overall, 57 per cent of the attorneys surveyed noted fewer divorce filings since this time a year ago. According to matrimonial experts, the average divorce ranges from $2,500 to $10,000. A contested divorce, however, can approach $100,000 in legal fees alone. “We’ve been getting as many consultations, but people have become much slower to file,” said Atlanta divorce attorney Randy Kessler, whose client roster includes Tameka Foster Raymond, estranged wife of singer Usher, rapper Juvenile and Bishop Thomas Weeks III. “People are being much more cost-conscious about everything, including divorce.”

And they’re arguing less over picayune details. “I’d have people spending thousands of dollars arguing over an extra visitation day,” Kessler said. “Not seeing much of that now.”

That’s bad news for private investigators and matrimonial accountants who generate a portion of their income on such business. Then there’s the couples who are probably better off apart. I think they’re doing the right thing for the wrong reasons,” Kessler said of couples staying together for purely financial motives. — © 2009 The New York Times News Service

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