With the ongoing slump in the national economy, a saddening trend is presenting itself in Illinois and throughout the country: couples deciding to divorce for economic reasons. A recent news article follows a couple in Freeport as they decide to navigate the murky waters of divorce not because they have fallen out of love with each other, but because they need money. The man and wife say they didn’t want to divorce, but they felt like they had to after considering their financial hardship.

The wife recently began a new career, and as a result, the husband saw a large cut in his disability benefits. He has been disabled since 2000 after suffering a severe back break. He is not able to receive SSDI benefits because he has not been able to work enough over the last 10 years.

However, he did begin to receive Supplemental Security Income, which allows benefits for disabled individuals so they can pay for items of basic need such as food, clothing and shelter.

The wife only makes a little over minimum wage, but now that she is employed, the SSI benefits have cut back. Now the couple is in such dire financial straits that they have considered divorcing just to survive. The wife says her new employment cost the couple close to $900 a month in benefits, $700 of which came from the SSI program. The husband and wife have also seen a decrease in other needed benefits such as medical aid and food stamps.

The man’s medical condition prevents him from working, and with the marked decrease in paid out benefits, the couple is struggling to fulfill their own basic needs. Going through a divorce would remove the wife’s income from the Social Security calculations, allowing the husband to receive benefits again.

The reasons people choose to divorce are multiple and varied. Illinois couples who are considering divorce would do well to investigate all of the options for achieving an equitable settlement that protects both financial and personal interests.

Source: The Journal-Standard, “Divorcing to survive: Couple struggles in tough economy,” Nick Crow, April 21, 2012