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  • Writer's pictureMaria Schwartz


First off, let me clarify that I cannot stand the expression "cheaper to keep her" as I find it offensive.  That being said, as a divorce attorney it is one that I hear very often.  I usually hear it from unhappily married men who rattle off all the reasons they should be getting divorced followed by a sigh or laughter that they don't because it's "cheaper to keep her." I suppose that in some instances some of these men will never actually get divorced, and in those cases, it is correct that it is more cost-effective to stay married.  However, for those men who may actually get divorced and are living in a marriage that is a time-ticking divorce bomb, staying married longer is going to cost them a lot more, and not just money.  Also, men who use this expression have to remember that they are not the only ones who decide if there is going to be a divorce.  Hence, while he may want to keep her, she may decide to dump him. 

Having represented many men in divorce, here are a few things I have learned from men who stay in an unhappy marriage to protect themselves:

Time Turns Cheating Thoughts into Affairs. The men that come to me for representation that have been caught having an affair have a much harder time in bringing their case to an amicable or fair resolution. Their wives have lost trust in them and usually don't want to speak to them, let alone work out something "fair."  Their wives are hurt and angry and very often can't get past the affair.  Even though the affair is not a factor that will come into play legally with respect to support and division of property, it is a factor that will come into play emotionally and taint the entire process.  Naturally, the inability to communicate will mean that everything has to be done through the lawyers, and that becomes very costly.  Moreover, given the distrust, men may find themselves having to pay more than they might have to in order to try and re-gain their wives' trust, ease guilt, or simply put an end to costly litigation.  These men always tell me, "I should have left sooner" meaning that they knew they were in a bad marriage and that rather than having an affair, they should have ended their marriage.  Many men tell me that they had an affair to "save their marriage" meaning that they were unhappy in the marriage but wanted to keep their family (and finances I suspect) intact.  Whatever the reason, they all tell me that their bad marriage led to cheating thoughts and eventually, with the passage of time, an affair.

Time is Money. If a man is successful and on an upward climb in his career, then it is fair to speculate that with the passage of time he will earn more and accumulate more.  That is not always the case of course, but for some men they can predict what they are on pace to earn over the next few years and how their assets and investments will grow.  When it comes to paying spousal support, generally speaking, the longer you are married, the longer you will pay.  This is especially true in marriages of long duration.  Likewise, when it comes to division of assets, the longer you are married, the closer you will be to an equal split.  In New York State the law does not mandate an equal division of assets but rather an "equitable" distribution of assets and the longer you are married, the more likely assets will be divided equally.

Divorce is Temporary. Yes, divorce is very costly and painful but it is not forever.  Some divorces take a long time but they eventually come to an end.  They all come to a legal end. 

Like I said, I don't like this expression and whether it's meant to be funny or true, it's neither.



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