The financial crisis may have destroyed dreams, 401(k) balances and early retirement plans, but it kept more than a few unhappy marriages together, the Orlando Sentinel reported.
With the economy starting to recover, however, many of those fragile alliances are starting to break. While that may come as a surprise to many—after all, the “for worse” part was supposed to be more challenging than the “for better”—divorce lawyers and other experts told the newspaper the trend makes logical—and economic—sense.
“I think a lot of people who are in troubled marriages have been waiting until the dust settled from the financial crisis,” Dennis Nolte, a senior vice president at Capital Guardian Wealth Management LLC in Winter Park, Fla., told the Sentinel. “When people start feeling a little more comfortable about the economy, that’s when they decide whether now is the time to move toward divorce.”
It’s an issue that could be of particular concern in North Carolina, where economic prospects have been improving of late—a trend that’s expected to continue measurably in 2011. After recording only a slight expansion in 2010, the state’s economy is expected to grow by nearly 3 percent in 2011, University of North Carolina economist John Connaughton said in March in his quarterly Babson Capital/UNC Charlotte Economic Forecast for the state.
Looking at its own backyard, the Sentinel found divorce rates climbing as the Orlando region’s economy improved. In 2010, the first full year after the recession was declared over, the number of divorce cases in the area rose more than 12 percent. During 2008—the recession’s first full year—divorce cases fell nearly 5 percent.
While financial stress is a trigger for many divorces and subsequent child custody and support cases, a particularly severe economic slump can, ironically, work to bring a couple together.
Brad Wilcox, a sociology professor and director of the National Marriage Project at the University of Virginia told the Sentinel that in such cases, couples will “hunker down” to get through the turmoil. Once the hard times disappear, so, too, can that need to band together—especially in marriages that were already troubled.
“There’s a sort of pent-up demand for divorce after people get through tough times,” Wilcox told the paper. “We saw that in what happened after the Great Depression, when the Depression lifted and divorce increased toward the end of the 1930s.”
One divorce lawyer told the Sentinel that the correlation between economic upturns and rising divorce rates is something family attorneys see all the time. “When the economy goes down, many people just don’t have the money or will to do it,” he told the paper. “But when they feel that financially they can get out of a bad marriage, they’re more willing to take on the fight.”
For many North Carolina couples, hard times, it seems, may be replaced by hard choices.
This news story was brought to you by Raleigh Family Lawyers Gailor & Hunt, PLLC. Since our founding in 1994, we’ve become one of North Carolina’s most accomplished and recognized family law firms. Our dedication and experience in all aspects of divorce, child custody, child support, alimony, prenuptial agreements and property distribution have made us an invaluable resource—and partner—for North Carolina residents enduring the emotional and financial stress of separation and divorce.