3 Common Reasons People Delay Divorce

Deciding to end a marriage is a monumental decision. It’s a decision that carries the weight of emotional, financial, and sometimes, societal implications. It's like standing at the edge of a precipice with the known world behind you and an abyss of uncertainty ahead. 

Despite the pain, frustration, or unhappiness that might be present in their marital life, many people put off divorce, sometimes indefinitely. Why?

Money is tight

One of the most common reasons people delay divorce is fear for their financial well-being. In fact, some people find themselves staying in unhappy marriages because they believe they simply can't afford to get divorced.

Research has shown that many couples, particularly those in lower-income brackets, avoid divorce due to perceived financial constraints. An investigation into why long-term heterosexual cohabiters choose not to marry revealed that fear of divorce and the inability to afford it play significant roles. Similarly, another study on low-income couples found that many do not pursue divorce because they believe they cannot afford to.

The financial implications of divorce are manifold. It's not just about the legal fees, It’s also the potential loss of dual income, the costs of finding new accommodations, and the strain of supporting children single-handedly. The fear of these financial burdens can act as a barrier, stopping people from taking a crucial step toward ending an unhappy marriage.

Divorce laws exist to help protect your financial wellbeing in divorce. Most states are equitable division states, which mandate that assets and debts be split fairly. A handful of states are community property states, which mandate that assets and debts be split 50/50/

Finding an affordable option

While divorce does have financial implications, affordable options exist that would make the divorce process more affordable and less stressful. One such option is Hello Divorce. We offer a range of flat-fee divorce plans and divorce services to make your divorce proceedings as simple and stress-free as possible.

While the decision to divorce should never be taken lightly, financial fears can trap individuals in unhappy and unhealthy situations. If you’re stuck in this position, seek financial advice. Explore affordable legal options. Solutions are available, though not always readily obvious.

They want to shield the kids

The desire to protect minors from the emotional turmoil of divorce is another major reason why some people delay their dissolution of marriage. Many parents believe that maintaining a united family front, regardless of the state of the relationship, serves the best interest of their children.

This trend has become particularly noticeable among couples over the age of 50. Recent research shows that the divorce rate among this demographic has doubled since the 1990s. This phenomenon, often referred to as "gray divorce," frequently occurs after the kids have left home, suggesting that couples may be postponing divorce to spare their children the distress associated with it.

Even adult children can be deeply affected by their parents' divorce. The dissolution of the family structure as they've known it can be jarring and emotionally challenging, regardless of their age.

While it's admirable and understandable that parents would want to protect their children, it's equally important to consider the potential harm of staying in an unhappy or dysfunctional marriage. Children are perceptive. They pick up on tension, unhappiness, and conflict, which can also have detrimental effects.

If you're considering divorce but are concerned about its impact on your children, a potential solution could be to seek professional help. A family therapist or child psychologist can provide guidance on how to navigate divorce-related conversations and transitions in a way that minimizes harm. They can help frame the discussion in a way that reassures children of the unchanging love from both parents, despite the change in marital status.

Read: Guide to Successful Co-Parenting after Divorce

They hope for reconciliation

Sometimes, the delay in pursuing divorce is not about external factors like money or kids. Instead, it reflects a deep internal struggle. One or both partners may still harbor hope for a reconciliation, leaving their unhappy marriage in a limbo state.

Hope for reconciliation is often rooted in love, shared history, or fear of change. For some, it's the belief that the issues causing discord are temporary or circumstantial. For others, it's a reluctance to let go of what once was a fulfilling relationship.

If you find yourself in this situation, desiring reconciliation but unsure how to proceed, there are several steps you can take. Honest and open communication is critical. Discuss your feelings with your spouse, expressing your desire for reconciliation and understanding their perspective.

Professional help, like marriage counseling or reconciliation counseling, can also be invaluable in these situations. A trained counselor can provide a safe space for both people to express their feelings, fears, and desires. They can guide you through difficult conversations, helping you identify and address the root causes of your marital issues.

Several types of separation exist for couples who aren’t sure they want to permanently separate. Read about trial separation here and legal separation here.

Divorce coaching

Another useful resource is divorce coaching. While the term “divorce coaching” might sound counterintuitive for someone trying to save their marriage, note that a divorce coach can help provide clarity and guidance. They can help you explore your feelings, understand your options, and make an informed decision – whether you decide to stay together or pursue a split.

Reconciliation requires commitment from both partners. If only one partner is invested in saving the marriage, the chances of successful reconciliation diminish.

Reconciliation is a beautiful possibility that comes to fruition for some couples. But it doesn’t happen for everyone. The path of every relationship is unique, and sometimes, despite our best efforts and intentions, we find ourselves at a crossroads where divorce seems like the most viable option.

That's where we, at Hello Divorce, come in. After years of helping couples finalize their divorce cases, we’ve channeled our deep knowledge of family law to make the divorce process less complicated, less stressful, and less expensive. 

We offer legal advice, mediation services, and a range of flat-rate online divorce plans designed to suit varying needs. Our aim is to navigate you through the legal process smoothly while providing as much support as you need.

We understand that each situation is unique and that there are no one-size-fits-all solutions. That's why we offer a free 15-minute phone call where you can discuss your situation with us. This conversation can help you understand your options and decide what course of action is best for you.

Suggested reading: Unwise Reasons to Delay Your Divorce

Divorce Content Specialist & Lawyer
Divorce Strategy, Divorce Process, Legal Insights

Bryan is a non-practicing lawyer, HR consultant, and legal content writer. With nearly 20 years of experience in the legal field, he has a deep understanding of family and employment laws. His goal is to provide readers with clear and accessible information about the law, and to help people succeed by providing them with the knowledge and tools they need to navigate the legal landscape. Bryan lives in Orlando, Florida.