Ready for Divorce? Don't Allow the Economy to Change Your Tune

"Recession" may rhyme with "depression," but there are plenty of ways to avoid having the economy write the sonnet on your marriage and — more importantly, your happiness.

By an almost two-to-one margin, the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers is seeing a drop in the number of divorces during this tough economic period. Typically, separation and divorce rates have risen in dangerous fiscal times, but the affected generations have never seen a period as vicious as our current state.

While it is unhealthy, it also is quite standard for couples with children to stay together through the Holidays "for the kids". It is already such a stressful time and couples don’t want to put a damper on the yuletide feelings. Furthermore, these issues are highlighted during the Holidays, when the entire family is together. Dealing with questions from your kids is one thing; facing interrogation from parents, uncles, aunts and cousins is the beat of a different drum.

The current economic landscape is compounding the aforementioned typical avoidance and will drive this "tough it out" sentiment deep into 2009. Reportedly, divorce filing fell by 5% in the first 9 months of 2008. A couple with one child can expect the cost of divorce to range between $30,000 and as much as $180,000.

When couples use their checkbooks, as opposed to their heads and hearts, to determine the next steps in a relationship, trouble ensues and children are left confused. Mortgages are more difficult to come by these days. It is a buyers' market and financially conscious homeowners know that they'll take a hit by selling. When neither side in a marital dispute can concede — whether out of volition or necessity — all involved parties suffer. The philosophy of "give and take" is a lost cause amongst people who want to win at all costs.

Divorce Management is a system that implements a healthy strategy before, during and after a divorce by providing you with the necessary information on topics, experts, ideas, tests, to-do's and not-to-do's that will synergistically all work towards savoring a happy and healthy marriage and is most effective when implemented prior to tying the knot. That said, it's never too late to call upon experts, who are out there to offer consultations and advice in areas, including real estate, mortgages and divorce. Ask a friend, search online or go the old-fashioned route and check the phonebook. Realtors, mortgage brokers, financial analysts, marriage counselors and divorce attorneys can offer a few quick tips to put you in a right — and rhythmic — direction.

The following is a list of questions you should ask each member of this band of experts. Since these genres intersect frequently, each will have an insightful and valuable opinion when you are asking them – and yourself — the following:

(Drum roll, please… )

A Playlist for Success — 7 Questions to Ask Before Deciding to Move Out or Stay In During a Divorce

1.) House of the Rising Sun, by Clarence "Tom" Ashley and Gwen Foster: Is it in my budget to keep the house?

2.) With or Without You, by U2: Looking down the road, what will be tougher to deal with — my financial future or living situation?

3.) Different Drum, by Mike Nesmith: Will these non-traditional living arrangements work for my family and me?

4.) Money, That's What I Want, by Barrett Strong: What am I giving up to keep the house?

5.) Sell Out, by Reel Big Fish: How much can I gain for selling the home after payment of the mortgage, taxes, home equity loan, closing costs, etc.?

6.) A Little Help from My Friends, by The Beatles: Can you afford to move out and live separately?

7.) I Will Survive, by Gloria Gaynor: What is your monthly budget?

While living as a prisoner in one's own home is not an appetizing situation, surely we can see why couples would go on living unhappily ever after together in this economic landscape.

The bottom line is to weigh your happiness with your financial future – ask experts to help you make informed decisions so that you can make a sensible and smart decision about getting divorced. Whether a duet or a solo, each case is different and should be examined with a "play it by ear" philosophy.

There exists an effective and tactful way to mesh the romantic and practicality when you're beginning a long-term relationship, which is outlined at www.vikkiziegler.com and will be released within Vikki's "Pre-Marriage Survival Kit: Secrets to Entering a Successful Marriage and Living Happily Ever After."

Vikki Ziegler has been named in the — Top 40 Lawyers Under 40 — by the New Jersey Law Journal. She has been featured on many CNN and FOX News telecasts, including "The O'Reilly Factor", "Issues with Jane Velez-Mitchell," "Prime News," "Your World With Neil Cavuto" and "FOX and Friends". She has also appeared as an expert on a panel for CNBC's "The Big Idea with Donnie Deutsch" and MSNBC's "The Abram's Report". Her Web site lays out her divorce management approach and can lend more insight into Vikki: www.vikkiziegler.com.