by Dr. Boyce Watkins
A recent article by “Ree” the Ree-lationship Guide at iDateDaily.com talks about the huge economic impact of both marriage and divorce. The article discusses a recent documentary by Dr. Drew Pinsky, a regular on CNN, called “Divorce Corp.” In the film, Dr. Drew explains how marriage and divorce are multi-billion dollar industries, and that they are relatively unregulated.
”Fifty billion dollars a year wasted on divorce. The average uncontested divorce is somewhere around $20,000… The extraordinary thing is that if there is a lot of money, a lot of equity to begin with, it’s extraordinary how the expense of divorce goes up dramatically. And guess who gets all the fees. Guess who sucks up that equity and who then attaches themselves to the alimony as well.”
Dr. Drew and others have expressed concern that the “chumminess” of the system often leads to families being exploited financially as they go through the trials of marriage, divorce and custody. These expensive hearings and court appearances often lead families into another court for bankruptcy. They say that being a single parent is a road map to poverty, but it appears that getting divorced can get you there almost as quickly.
”And there’s a chumminess to the system where the attorneys can actually contribute to the campaigns of the judges they’re appearing before,” he said. ”They can hire the judges to give them symposia. They can hire the judges into their firms after they retire as judges. If this was a medical system, I can’t even imagine the hue and cry over the ethical issues associated with this kind of conduct.”
Financial Lovemaking lessons from this story:
1) If you get married, be mindful of keeping all costs associated with your nuptials to a minimum. Don’t allow a wedding to put you in the hole financially for a long period of time. Also, try marrying someone that is firm in their commitment to the institution so that both of you can be focused on remaining married rather than being among the millions of Americans who walk down the aisle and end up with disappointment. Choosing the right partner to join you in this venture can save you a pile of headaches down the road.
2) Make no mistake about it: Marriage and children are an INVESTMENT. You’re not just investing your money, you’re also investing your LIFE. All of the principles of risk/return etc apply, and these are decisions that should not be taken lightly. The same way you would not buy a home without learning about the home buying and ownership process, you probably don’t want to invest in marriage and children without doing just as much studying. Playing it by the seat of your pants can often lead to disaster.
How you structure your family situation is an important part of the wealth building process. Having several kids out of wedlock is a surefire recipe for financial disaster, but marrying the wrong person can be just as bad. My suggestion? Plan your children carefully, make sure they are with the same person if possible, make sure the person has good financial sense. The process doesn’t have to be messy, expensive and dramatic.
Dr. Boyce Watkins is a professor at Syracuse University and author of the book, “Financial Lovemaking 101: Merging Assets with Your Partner in Ways that Feel Good.” To have Dr. Boyce commentary delivered to your email, please click here.