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Does the Economy Influence Divorce Rates?

Does the Economy Influence Divorce Rates?

By M. Scott Gordon

When you’re thinking about filing for divorce in Chicago, one of the issues you might consider is cost. Many Illinois residents worry that divorce will end up with a high price tag—both emotionally and financially. While divorce doesn’t need to be cost prohibitive, this myth can influence the way married people think about the future of their relationship.

And when couples do make the decision to dissolve their marriage, they often find that living separately on their incomes can place a financial strain on their lives. Indeed, it’s much easier to pay one mortgage with two incomes than two separate mortgages. But how much do these financial factors drive divorce rates? And when the economy is in a slump—when Americans worry more than ever about their personal finances and savings accounts—do divorce rates hit all-time lows? A recent article in the Illinois Valley News Tribune suggests that divorce numbers could be tied, at least in part, to the state of the economy.

Falling Divorce Rates During the Real Estate Crash

Can the highs and lows of the economy really track with divorce trends? The article emphasized that it’s certainly possible. To be sure, divorce rates appear to have declined between 2009-2011 as the economy hit a slump. According to one family attorney, “during a tough economy, people choose to remain married rather than going through the expense of divorce.” Deciding to break up, after all, “is hard on the wallet,” and “couples who can’t foot the legal bills have been effectively forced to tough it out.”

According to research conducted at the University of Maryland, divorce rates peaked in the early 1980s. Divorce wasn’t common at all in the early 1970s, and it saw a sharp increase over that decade. Since 1980, however, divorce rates generally have declined at a slow and steady rate. The 1990s witnessed a general decline in overall divorce numbers, but those figures began to rise slightly again at the turn of the millennium.

As a result of economic woes, when couples do make the decision to divorce when they’re worrying about money, they’ll often take a DIY approach. Yet this isn’t always the best path, even if it saves a few dollars in the short term. Family law in Illinois can be very complicated, and it’s always a good idea to discuss your case with a Chicago divorce lawyer.

Avoiding Marriage, Limiting Divorce

A slow economy might mean that couples that would have filed for divorce are more likely to stay together for financial reasons. At the same time, however, recent marriage trends have pointed toward fewer marriages altogether. In other words, fewer divorces during years of economic uncertainty could point, simply, to the fact that fewer married couples exist who could think about filing for divorce.

Why are fewer Americans getting married these days? One family psychologist believes that social trends have changed significantly in the past few decades such that Americans don’t feel pressure to tie the knot. More men and women wait until they’ve finished college to even think about marriage, and a number of those people decide to remain in committed partnerships rather than deal with the legal ramifications of marriage.

Do you have questions about divorce in Illinois? Don’t hesitate to contact an experienced Chicago family law attorney. At the law offices of M. Scott Gordon & Associates, we can answer your questions today.