According to The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, and Forbes, the divorce rate has declined during the recession. Why? Because it has become too expensive for many Americans to get divorced. As a lawyer quoted in Times quipped: "Why is a divorce so expensive? Because it's worth it," adding that in our current economic climate, "now it better really be worth it." But the expense of exercising such a basic legal right is hardly a joke. And if you can't afford to file for divorce, it is a safe assumption there are other legal rights you also can't exercise.
Although the increasing cost of legal services is gaining attention due to the recession, we should not attribute the trend to the recession. Basic legal services have always been priced out of reach for most Americans. Our rights as individuals are only as real as our access to the legal services allows us to protect or exercise them.
Having the legal right to get divorced means nothing to a couple who can't even afford to consult with an attorney to learn about that right, let alone begin the process. It speaks volumes about the deep-seated flaws of legal system that, in a time of recession, something as basic as getting a divorce should be be inaccessible to working people.
Our economy will eventually rebound, but the basic inequalities that exist in our legal system will persist unless we take steps to empower all Americans to take command of their legal rights. Access to one's legal rights should never be a luxury.