Can the Economy Affect Divorce Rates?

Can the Economy Affect Divorce Rates?

By: M. Scott Gordon

Many studies have analyzed ways in which financial problems contribute to divorce. In most of those analyses, researchers determined that financial struggles can affect the stability of a marriage and, ultimately, may be one of the leading factors in the parties’ ultimate decision to file for divorce. While it may be clear financial problems within the confines of a marriage can lead to divorce, can fluctuations in the larger economy also contribute to the divorce rate in Chicago?

According to a recent report from CNBC, the answer to that might not be the one you would expect. In short, a new study suggests that overall divorces often increase in times of economic growth when incomes are higher. But why might a growing economy lead to more divorces?

When People Earn More, Divorce Seems Possible

The recent study, conducted by the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers (AAML), explains that when the economy is growing and people are employed, overall, more of us are also earning higher salaries. It might seem counterintuitive that more people would file for divorce when they feel economically stable, given that more than 40 percent of recent divorcees cite financial anxieties as motivators for divorce. However, as the study clarifies, when the economy is growing and couples feel stable in their jobs, divorce simply seems more financially feasible.

Some couples avoid divorce simply because they worry about how they will thrive—or even survive—on a single salary. Many of those couples think about the financial burden of dividing marital property and the complications of distributing assets. Property division often feels even more burdensome when people are concerned about job stability or their yearly earnings. Accordingly, when finances feel more stable, more people see divorce as an option. To be sure, when the economy is growing, high net worth divorces also rise.

Lower Divorce Rates During Economic Downturns

Just as divorces tend to rise when the economy is doing well, divorce rates also tend to drop when there are economic downturns. As the AAML study determined, when forced to weigh damaged marriages against uncertain financial outlooks, many spouses seem more willing to try and wait it out.

Yet of course, the state of the economy does not explain all divorces. Whether couples are living off low to moderate incomes or own extensive assets, there are aspects beyond finances that affect relationships. As the CNBC report emphasizes, there are numerous reasons people make the decision to file for divorce – economics typically are only one of many factors. Even in situations where concerns about property division play a key role in a couple’s decision to get divorced – there are still factors beyond financial ones at play in the distribution of marital property, including sentimental attachments to certain assets.

Learn More from a Chicago Divorce Lawyer

Do you have questions about filing for divorce in the Chicago area? If you are considering divorce, you should speak with an experienced Chicago divorce lawyer about your situation. An advocate at our firm can answer your questions today. Contact Gordon & Perlut, LLC to discuss your case.