Unhappy Couples Can't Afford to Divorce

This is a rush transcript from "America's Election HQ," July 11, 2008. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

E.D. HILL, HOST: HILL: Well, the divorce rate is dropping in south Florida, but not necessarily because of all the happy marriages. It may be because they can't afford it.

Some Florida divorce attorneys say the tough real estate market and the expensive filing for divorce is actually keeping couples together. But is what's healthy for your bank account necessarily best four family?

Joining us now, Judge Renee Goldenberg from Broward County, Florida, and Florida marriage-divorce counselor Lilliam Kirschner-Sanchez. Thank you both for being with us.


Video: Watch E.D. Hill's interview

HILL: Judge Goldenberg, have you noticed a difference in the couples that are coming in for divorces now?

JUDGE RENEE GOLDENBERG, BROWARD COUNTY, FLORIDA: Our judicial workload is increasing, not decreasing. Families are with us for 18 years after a divorce until the youngest is 18. I've seen a spike in modifications, enforcements and especially emergencies. We're working harder and harder trying to help families and children.

HILL: So you're saying the divorce rate hasn't dropped?

GOLDENBERG: The divorce rate statistically has dropped, but that is not the full picture of what's happening in the State of Florida.

HILL: I think that what you are alluding to is that because when times get tough, you know, money is the number one source, they say, of all - the root of all divorces. And so for families, whether they have gotten divorced in the past or not, they're coming in because they want modifications or it is causing domestic violence or child abuse in the households. Lillian, can you address that, because if you think about couples staying together, because it's too expensive to get divorced, does that set up a scene for something bad?

KIRSCHNER-SANCHEZ: Well, if they decide not to work on the marriage and to work on the issues, to take this opportunity to work on that, it can be very negative. But I'm seeing an increase in people reaching out and looking for help, and trying to work on the families and the marriages and that's always good.

HILL: Judge Goldenberg, when people do come in for - it's what you talked about first, the domestic violence or child abuse. Are you finding that the economy is what's driving that?

GOLDENBERG: Absolutely. When families are in crisis, we see it in the court system first. What we're seeing is a very, very large increase of needs of people to come into the court system. But what I tell parents is you have a right to be angry, but don't be angry in front of your children. Take it to a referee. Take it to a religious leader. Take it to a mediator. Take it to a counselor. But don't fight in front of your children because conflict destroys children.

Don't be sad in front of your children. You have a right to be sad but do it at 11:00 so children don't see the trauma you are experiencing because it just brings trauma to the children.

HILL: Lilliam, I know some people who say that they stay together for the kids, even though they rarely talk to each other, rarely see each other and certainly don't role model a good marriage for the kids. In your opinion, is it better for feuding couples - and not just, you know, you have a couple of spats, but I'm talking serious problems over a number of years - feuding couples to stay together for the kids, or get divorced?

KIRSCHNER-SANCHEZ: Well, no. I mean, if they want to - if they decide to work on the marriage, that would be the best for the family. Just to stay in it and not do anything about it, that would never bring out a positive outcome. It's much better if they decide to work on the marriage. They come in and show their children - role model for their children how it is that you resolve conflict, not ignore it, because it's not going to go away.

HILL: If the key issue is money concerns, what would you tell people to work on first?

KIRSCHNER-SANCHEZ: If the key is money concerns?

HILL: Yes.

KIRSCHNER-SANCHEZ: Well, their marriage, their communication, the way they are going to solve problems, to focus on the solutions. If they could unite together, they have a greater chance of getting through this crisis, which it is at a crisis level. That is something I am seeing, and that will -

HILL: I'm sorry. We've got to end it there. Lilliam Kirschner-Sanchez ...


HILL: ... and Judge Renee Goldenberg, thank you both for being with us.

GOLDENBERG: Thank you so much.

KIRSCHNER-SANCHEZ: You're welcome. Thank you.

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