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Study Shows People Without Lawyers May Stay in Unhappy Marriages


There are several reasons why anyone considering a divorce in Michigan or elsewhere across the country should talk with an experienced family law attorney. A new study from Harvard Law School highlights one reason: Those who do not consult a lawyer are more likely to stay in unhappy marriages.

The researchers studied a group of more than 300 low-income individuals, some of which were randomly given access to a pro bono lawyer and others who proceeded with minimal assistance. They found that 46 percent of those with a lawyer had ended their marriages three years later, compared to only 9 percent of those largely without legal assistance.

“We found that assignment to an attorney made a large difference in whether participants filed for and obtained a divorce,” the group, led by Harvard Professor Jim Greiner, said in the study published in PNAS. “Through interviews and archival research, we identified barriers that low-income litigants faced in navigating the divorce system, including mandatory wait times, limited hours at important facilities, and burdensome paperwork sometimes requiring access to photocopiers and typewriters.”

The study raises crucial questions about access to justice in family and other civil courts for low-income and marginalized communities throughout the country. 

“Not everyone is going to be able to get a lawyer; they’re too expensive, and there aren’t enough of the free ones to go around,” Greiner told Harvard Law Today. Among other responses, he said courts and legislatures should work to streamline the process of getting a divorce, particularly for low-income people with relatively straightforward cases.

It also shows just how important it is for anyone considering a divorce to have an experienced family law attorney in their corner. A seasoned attorney can help you navigate the legal process for unwinding a marriage and resolve a wide range of related questions.

Unhappy in Your Marriage? Speak with a Grand Rapids Family Lawyer Today

There are a wide range of issues that often come up when spouses decide to go their separate ways, especially if they are also parents. Fortunately, you do not have to go it alone. 

In Michigan, an experienced Grand Rapids family lawyer at Kraayeveld Law can help you understand your rights and options and guide you through the legal process with experience and personal attention. We help people efficiently end their marriages and resolve issues like child custody, visitation, and support, as well as alimony and asset division

Our attorneys combine decades of experience and a proud track record of successful results for the people we represent.

We understand the pain and stress that often comes with a custody dispute or related legal issue. A Grand Rapids family lawyer at our firm will take the time to understand your unique needs and craft a legal strategy designed to achieve your specific goals.

Call 616-285-0808 or contact us online to make an appointment to speak with a Grand Rapids family lawyer about your situation.