Divorce is not an event we plan for or imagine as we dream of ourselves in an episode of “Say Yes to the Dress” or perhaps more appropriate, “Bridesmaids”. Although the divorce rate has declined over the past twenty years, and varies from state to state, the national average ratio of marriages ending in divorce remains 40%-50%. The statistic is higher for second time marriages, up to 60% of which end in divorce. Southern states have the highest ratio of divorce, with 11% of women reporting a divorce, while the Northeast has the lowest ratio of divorce, 7.1% of women in this region report divorced status.
Scholars and marriage therapists argue that our society has become disposable, and this throw-away mentality is the reason marriages do not seem to stick. Technology, including constant, rapid fire communication around the globe through Twitter, Facebook, Linked-In and a host of online platforms have created a global economy, but has this endless parade of choices, options, and information made us committment phobes? Perhaps the institution of marriage is not realistic in a world where you can choose from hundreds of different cuisines, delivered in 20 minutes or less at the touch of a smart phone. Or, swipe left through hundreds of available men and women looking for a warm body to leap into on the high-speed train of life.
But what happens between the moment that blissful twenty-something couple fall gaga in love with each other at the Upstate farmer’s market and decide to open an organic farm in the Catskills and the day that woman comes to my office, or begins perusing my website for advice about how she will support her family, or whether he is entitled to her inheritance that they used to buy the farm and can she move out-of-state with the kids? The answer is complicated. When asked why they are divorcing, 74% of polled couples said “lack of commitment.” Although this response is not entirely clear, we do know that when you live with someone in the day-to-day work of life, it is easy to focus on that person’s flaws then the possible personality quirks of that high school sweetheart you reconnected with on Facebook.
There are also situations which arise that threaten the safety of one of the spouses. Abuse is all too common in domestic relationships, approximately 1.3 million women and 835,000 men are physically assaulted by an intimate partner every year in the United States, according to the American Bar Association. In recent years, an intimate partner killed approximately 33% of female homicide victims and 4% of male homicide victims. If you are in an abusive relationship, and need support, call 1-800-942-6906 within New York State, for resources. If you are thinking about leaving, call me at 1-845-331-1320 for a free consultation and safety plan, including filing for an emergency Order of Protection at no cost to you.
Abuse need not be physical to have lasting impact on the family. Abuse does not discriminate against a particular income bracket, race, gender, sexual identity or educational level. Domestic violence impacts all strata of society, although Native American Women are raped and sexually assaulted by intimate partners and acquaintances more than double that of any other racial group. African-American Women suffer deadly violence from an intimate partner at a rate 35% higher than that of White Women and 22 time the rate of women of all other races.
No one should have to be subject to domestic violence. If you are in a situation where you feel unsafe, whether it is a spouse, intimate partner, sibling or parent, find someone you can talk with. I am a specially trained domestic violence attorney with many resources at my fingertips. I can help. Call 1-845-331-1320 today. I will help you create a safety plan, give you a list of resources and support that you can lean on as you make these difficult decisions. I can also provide resources for the abuser, such as substance use treatment services, counseling, anger management and many more.
If you are in a healthy but untenable marriage, I encourage you to try counseling and therapy. If you are in a relationship in which you are not given a voice, where marital resources such as joint bank accounts and credit cards are controlled by one spouse without joint access, if you are told you are worthless, are a liar, are promiscuous, if you are hit or shoved, locked out, slapped, kicked, strangled, stalked, denigrated or spoken to disrespectfully in front of your children, if your spouse cycles through alarming, abusive frightening behavior, afterwards apologizes, begs forgiveness and showers you with gifts, you may be in the grips of an abuser. I can help you formulate a plan to leave. I can help you find a safe, secure place to stay. I can help you file the necessary papers to ensure you get the support you are entitled to and begin to build a new life.