Divorce and the Great Recession

A new study released by the University of Virginia’s National Marriage Project revealed some very interesting news about the recession’s impact on rates of divorce.

“Between 2008 and 2009, divorce rates dropped significantly as families experienced unemployment and mortgage stress. In 2008, the divorce rate fell 24 percent, and in 2009, 57 percent. The rate is on the rise, however, as the nation slowly recovers from the recession.”

The study’s results make sense and we’ve seen the same story in our Family Law practice in Annapolis, Maryland. Some couples have figured out that they can’t get divorced now because they cannot afford to support two households. In the not too distant past, the most valuable asset of a family was often the house but that is no longer the case. Instead of fighting over when to sell the family house or at what price; it’s now a battle to sell it at a price that will cover the mortgage and realtor’s costs. As well-known divorce blogger/coach Lee Block put it:

“I’m actually in the position of trying to help people get back together because they can’t afford to get divorced,” Block says. “It could be a question of ‘How are we going to live together amicably?’ Or it could be, ‘How do we stay together for the meantime and not kill each other?’ ”

It’s important to understand the financial consequences for the family before starting down the path to divorce. One reason we always recommend consulting a divorce attorney and a financial expert before one spouse lives the family home for good. It may be that you can’t afford to divorce right now, and it’s better to find that fact out sooner rather than later.


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