Picture Is Mixed on Recession Divorces

Recession-induced hardships now extend to the way we divorce. The rich are separating in increasing numbers while some who aren't have seen the recession solidify their relationships. And one group may have found a way around hard times by faking divorce.

A survey of divorce lawyers by the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers shows that the economic downturn is decreasing divorce rates for those most affected by the crisis. These couples have been united in their hardship, solidifying the bonds of their relationship.

For families impervious to the meltdown, divorce rates appear up. "I have never been so busy," British divorce lawyer to the rich and famous Raymond Tooth recently told the Times.

And for the rich who have seen their bank accounts thin, there is the Toxic Wife phenomenon, profiled in the Telegraph by writer Tara Winter Wilson. She studied how the financial downturn was sending wives used to the white-glove treatment looking for new husbands. The story claimed divorce inquiries rose 50 percent in the UK between September and November of last year.

Some happily married couples have even tried to fake divorces to stay afloat financially. That's according to a recent lawsuit by Continental Airlines against nine of its pilots. The airline alleges that by pretending to break up the couples were able to collect on their pension funds before actually retiring.

Federal law allows ex-spouses to make withdrawals from such pension funds. The spouses would have collected up to $900,000 that was not required to be returned if the couples reconciled. The couples claimed they were afraid their pension funds would dry up before they could collect, as has happened at other airlines like Delta.

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