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Increasing divorce rate may signal economic recovery

Statisticians have historically had difficulty establishing a firm link between divorce and the economy. For instance, many divorce laws favor spouses who earn less than their husbands or wives. One might expect this to prompt more divorces, but the U.S. divorce rate has dropped significantly since the recession began. Some experts expected the economic downturn to cause marital difficulties and increase divorce, but attorneys say fewer couples have been seeking divorce in fear of bankruptcy.

In 2011, the federal government's National Vital Statistic System reported that Maryland saw 2.8 divorces for every 1,000 residents in 2009. The state has experienced a smaller percentage of divorces than the nation at large since 2005. Some couples in the state may be deferring divorce until their financial situations improve. However, waiting too long to end a dysfunctional marriage can cause more problems than it prevents, especially if a couple's relationship has become especially bitter.

Now, some economists say increasing divorce rates could be a sign of an improving economy. Although the divorce rate fell by approximately 7 percent between 2006 and 2009, many lawyers across the U.S. are reporting an uptick in divorces. One divorce attorney who operates just outside of Maryland explained that divorce activity in his law firm has "probably picked up by 20, 25 percent" in recent months. He attributes the increase to banks becoming more willing to make loans and credit markets reopening, making it easier for many individuals to afford a divorce.

Still, it is difficult to say for certain how the recession has affected divorces. Along with abuse, infidelity, communication and sexual issues, money is repeatedly listed as one of the leading causes of divorce. Individuals who are considering divorce but are unsure of the associated financial implications should consult with an attorney to learn more.

Source: VOXXI, "Rising divorce rates, sign of a better economy," Silvia Casabianca, July 16, 2012

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