As society continues to change, the process of going through a divorce changes as well. Some once-common scenarios are getting rarer, while previous outliers become the new standard. Here are some strong trends observed in divorce that are expected to continue further into 2017.
Alimony has been decreasing for several years, both in terms of amounts and the frequency with which courts award it. Originally instituted with the assumption of a wife who has never worked outside the home, it is an increasingly outdated concept. While temporary alimony awards still happen on a gender-neutral basis, life-long alimony is practically extinct.
On the other hand, prenuptial agreements are growing more common. In previous years, the prenup was chiefly the province of wealthy people with numerous and complicated assets. As more and more couples are getting married later in life, it is more typical to see both partners enter marriage with significant assets and career expectations. Even people with relatively little property are coming to see the prenup as a good way of taking care of important matters before the stress of divorce arises. In most jurisdictions, courts still vet prenuptial agreements to make sure that they are basically fair to both parties.
Custody battles are waning, as courts encourage a more cooperative model of sorting out parenting arrangements during divorce. In most states, the default leans toward shared parenting, where both parents come to an agreement as to the best way of handling issues like scheduling, education and more. Judges want parents to arrive in the courtroom with thought-out, good-faith parenting plans that prioritize the interests of the children.
Divorce rates in general continue to fall, due to a number of factors. The fact that marriage rates are also plummeting may be affecting this trend, as more couples choose to live together without formalizing their arrangements through marriage. Many couples are also getting married at an older age. This can mean that they make better decisions, causing them to choose more appropriate partners and control impulses that could damage the marriage. They are typically also more affluent, decreasing stress about finances, which can be a major force in ending a marriage.
Those who do divorce tend to strive for a less adversarial mode of engagement. Many divorcing couples are willing to at least try mediation, dialing down the level of confrontation. Even couples who have substantive disagreements on key issues are often able to resolve them in a mediation setting, without resorting to litigation.
If you are contemplating divorce, these trends may give you something to think about as you consider the direction you want to take. However, each couple's circumstances are unique. To learn more about the best options for you, contact an experienced attorney in your area.