The Chicago Family Law Blog

Study: Crappy Economy Led to Delayed Divorce

One would think that when times get tough and money gets tight, couples would begin to fight more. This would lead to more conflict and more divorce.

It's the opposite, at least according to a study by Abdur Chowdury, a Professor of Economics at Marquette University. His study, "'Til Recession Do Us Part: Booms, Busts, and Divorce in the United States," found that in the initial years of this dismal recession, divorce rates actually dropped.

When the economy began to recover in 2009 and 2010, the backlog in dissatisfied couples caused the rate to rebound to pre-2007 levels, reports the Star-Tribune. The effect was even more pronounced in the current recession than in previous economic downturns.

In fact, according to the study, from 1978 to 2009, the higher the level of disposable income, the more likely divorce is to happen.

Some people spend surplus cash on Manolo Blahniks, some people spend it on the pursuit of happiness.

The trend makes even more sense in the context of our current housing market-related recession. For unhappy couples in the Great Recession, their home values plummeted to insanely low values. In most divorces, that family home is sold and any proceeds are split between the parties. This is because any property acquired during the marriage is, absent a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement, the property of both spouses.

Selling a house at its low point is obviously a bad idea. Many houses were valued at less than the outstanding mortgage during the worst days of the recession, meaning the recently divorced spouses would have to operate on one income, fresh out of a marriage, and saddled with debt. Add in record unemployment numbers and you have a lot of economic incentives to give the old ball-and-chain, otherwise known as your sugar mama and insurance provider, another shot.

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