Divorce Rate Linked to Bigger Economic Cycles

- Gary E. Williams

Most divorcing couples end their marriages because the relationship is no longer satisfying or supportive. They fall out of love. Certain interpersonal patterns finally become unbearable. One of the spouses cheats on the other. Once they start divorce proceedings, many people discover the large — and often contentious — role that family finances play in any marriage. New research suggests that the national economy may affect the decision to file for divorce.

In the article “Til Recession Do Us Part: Booms, Busts, and Divorce in the United States,” economist Abdur Chowdhury analyzed more than 30 years of divorce data from 45 states, paying particular attention to divorce rates during the recent recession between 2007 and 2009. He concluded that “when the economy is doing badly, divorce rate drops, and when the economy improves, divorce rate increases.” Statistics showing the change in the number of divorces per thousand married women appear to support this:

  • 2007 — 17.5 percent
  • 2008 — 16.9 percent
  • 2010 — 17.5 percent

During the last recession, 38 percent of couples who had been considering a divorce reported that they were postponing the decision. Since primary marital assets, such as a family house, lose value during a recession, some couples may decide that they cannot afford to get divorced. Job insecurity also creates an incentive to stick it out.

The current increase in the number of divorces can be viewed, therefore, as a sign that the national economy is recovering. You may feel more financially confident about proceeding with your divorce, but having a divorce attorney who is knowledgeable about the financial and legal aspects of Florida divorce proceedings can increase your chances of getting a fair and just settlement.