A report published by researchers at Ohio State University has shown that although long-term separation is not the first choice for many couples, it is becoming the low cost do-it-yourself alternative to divorce for low income families in the United States. 

Of the individuals studied, 49% had left their first marriage during the study with 80% of these ending in divorce. The majority of these divorces occurred within 3 years of separation. The profiles of participants who divorced immediately and those who separated and then divorced, were very similar. The differences lie with those who had separated and remained separated, without obtaining a divorce. The average length of these separations at the most recent interview, was 9 years. These couples tended to be more disadvantaged than the divorcing couples in terms of family background, income and education. They had more children and almost 75% of participants who remained separated were black or Hispanic.

This has lead those conducting the research to believe that long-term separation is seen as the better alternative to those who cannot afford a divorce.

With further tough economic times ahead this trend looks set to continue, with poorer separated couples having their options limited as they are priced out of divorce.