A common refrain that I hear from clients and social acquaintances is that they would have liked to try marital counseling before their separation or divorce, but they just could not afford it.
With the scope of health insurance coverage narrowing and the increased number of people without health insurance due to job losses, there is a very real financial barrier to marital counseling for many people. But, aside from the obvious potential benefit of preserving the marriage and an intact family, there are financial reasons that marital counseling makes sense.
Most people do not consider the cost of the alternative to marital counseling…divorce. Obviously, marital counseling will not save every marriage and not every couple that might benefit from marital counseling will end up divorced. But, when people are evaluating their financial ability to obtain counseling, the cost of a potential divorce should be considered.
Using rough numbers, one session of marital counseling may cost a couple $150 per week. Over 50 weeks, that adds up to $7,500. And let’s assume that all of that expense is out of pocket and not covered by insurance. That sounds like a lot of money, and it is for most of us.
But, let’s compare that to the cost of a divorce. $7,500 would be a fairly low amount for what one of these folks would spend on one attorney to resolve the issues involved in a divorce. Now, multiply that by two because each person will need an attorney. Add in the cost of therapy for each party to deal with the trauma of a divorce, therapy for the children to help them process the divorce, potential expert financial professionals and the miscellaneous expenses of litigation and divorce.
Also, add in the 25% to 50% increase in the cost of living to support separate households and potential lost productivity at work due to the distraction of a divorce. In the end, the financial toll can be in the tens, if not hundreds, of thousands.
Ironically, many people who claim that they could not afford marital counseling, somehow find the money to pay for a divorce. Some people are more comfortable asking their family for money to pay for a divorce than asking their family for money to pay for marriage counseling. I suspect that family members would be happier about contributing money for counseling than divorce.
The point is that when compared to divorce, the cost of trying to save a marriage is minimal. Given the potential benefits that can be reaped from marital counseling, it is an investment that should be considered before incurring the costs of a divorce.