Berman & Asbel, LLP

Unusual approach to avoid divorce, property division

Pennsylvania couples who are considering divorce may be interested in a recently published piece that outlines a new solution to an unhappy marriage. The unusual approach promises an easier path to happiness than that offered by a traditional divorce, and the ability to avoid the hassles of property division. However, as with most sweeping claims, the devil seems to be in the details.

The solution offered is being touted as a 'consorce,' which is derived from the Latin word for cohabitation. This approach involves a couple coming to the understanding that, while their marriage has failed to yield emotional or perhaps sexual fulfillment, there is still plenty of benefit to be gained from continuing to live together in one household. Spouses are advised to simply adjust their expectations of the marriage, and to look at the union as simply a co-parenting and roommate situation.

Proponents of this approach point out that a great deal of money can be saved by continuing to live as a family and avoiding the costs of divorce. The benefits to children are also promoted; they would have little disruption to their existing routines and have continued access to both parents. The author even suggests that this scenario can continue until one or both partners are ready to remarry.

While such a scenario could conceivably work out for some couples, the vast majority of spouses who are unhappy with their marriages will not easily accept the idea that a 'consorce' would work for them. For starters, if the level of cooperation and selflessness required for this arrangement to work out were present between the partners, divorce would likely not have been on the table to begin with. Furthermore, it could easily be argued that any perceived benefit to the children would be offset by the confusion such an arrangement would cause, not to mention the way a child's concept of family or marriage could be affected.

Divorce is not easy, but in many cases it is the best possible outcome. Issues of property division and child custody can be worked out between parties or presented to a family court judge to determine. No matter how difficult the process may be, attempting to live together as roommates is not likely to provide a better outcome, and could very easily lead to even more tension and animosity between Pennsylvania spouses.

Source: Fox News, "Don't get a divorce, get a 'consorce'," Dr. Keith Ablow, Dec. 11, 2012

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