Washington Post: Recession Means Couples Waiting To Divorce

Posted on Mar 24, 2010
The recession has caused Washington house prices to plummet, bankruptcy rates to skyrocket, and unemployment rates to rise. But how has the recent problems with the economy affected divorce rates? According to the Washington Post, divorce rates fell significantly in 2008 – not because fewer couples wanted to end their relationships, but because fewer couples could afford to get divorced.

Is divorce a luxury? In some cases, couples have put off ending their relationships to focus on paying their mortgage or getting their kids to college. Many with strained finances are opting to live on separate floors and wait a year or two before legally severing their tie. Many law offices report that one out of four couples are living together as they wait for their divorce to go through in order to save money.

In 2008, there were 20,000 fewer divorces, with only 838,000 divorce cases in court. While the tough economy should increase the number of divorces – financial strain and money problems are the number one cause for divorce – the rate of divorces has decreased. Many states require months or a year of separation before a divorce, which can be a considerable financial strain. However, some experts say that many families may be putting differences aside in order to fight together against hard times, upside-down mortgages, and layoffs.

This pattern reflects a similar pattern seen during the Great Depression: divorce rates fell during hard times and then increased as the country recovered. For now, divorces may be “backlogged” until better times.

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