Between 1940 and 1980, the national divorce rate doubled. However—despite common wisdom to the contrary—after 1980, the divorce rate fell dramatically. By 2009, it had dropped by a third, and the rate of divorce in America was lower than at any time in the previous 40 years.
However, since 2009, the divorce rate—especially in Florida—has again been on the rise. And while divorce is sparked by numerous factors, experts recently have been pointing to one factor as the primary cause of the recent spike: the economy.
Economic Stress and the Effect on Marriage
According to a report published by the University of Maryland, economic downturns do tend to put stress on marriages, increasing the risk of hardship, conflict, and divorce. But, at least in the short term, recessions that lead to reduced household income and other financial pressures can have the
opposite effect. As families face home foreclosure and unemployment, they might be hesitant to undertake certain changes.
reported that, as the economy has rebounded, so have births and divorces. According to an economist with Moody's, "[w]e may even see them rise strongly in the next couple of years, as households who put off these life-changing events decide to act."
Indeed, the University of Maryland report estimated that the Great Recession put 150,000 divorces on hold. As another report from the University of Arizona noted, for every percentage point that the unemployment rate rises, marriages decrease by 1.5 percent and divorce drops by 1.7 percent. But as employment rises again and housing prices increase, couples who delayed separating for financial reasons are once again seeing divorce as a possibility.
These trends are particularly pointed in Florida and Arizona, where housing prices that dropped dramatically during the recession are finally recovering. The home can be a crucial asset to divorcing couples, who often use the proceeds of a sale to help themselves embark on financially separate and independent lives. Thus, when housing prices were bitterly low, the prospect of dividing
property at divorce became untenable for many couples.
In 1990, Florida's divorce rate was 6.3 out of every 1,000 residents. And in line with the national trend, the state's rate fell to 5.5 in 1995, to 5.1 in 2000, and to 4.6 in 2005. By 2009—during the heart of the economic downturn—the rate of divorce in Florida was 4.2 out of 1,000 residents. Every year since, however, the divorce rate has continued creeping upward.
In fact, while the economy appears to impact divorce rates, the reverse seems true as well. As couples choose to separate, they create the demand for two residences where, before, there was only demand for one. This demand also increases the need for appliances, furniture, and other household goods. Hopefully, whatever the divorce rate, the economy will continue to improve, allowing families to make the decisions that are best for them.
Contact an Attorney for Help with Your Divorce
If you need help navigating your divorce or have any other family law-related questions, please do not hesitate to contact our legal professionals at Hager
& Schwartz, P.A. with offices in Miami, Hollywood, Boca Raton and Daytona Beach to learn how we can help.