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Recession Ending? The Divorce Rate Is Moving Up

One sign the recession may be over is the increase in divorce filings.

The American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers said more than half of its members reported a decline in divorce filings in late 2009, compared with a year earlier. Linda Lea Viken, president of the academy, said the divorce rate dropped 24 percent in 2008 and 57 percent in 2009, but began to rise again by the end of 2010. Viken noted, “People were afraid they were going to lose their jobs so they were very cautious about getting a divorce because you have to split your assets.”

Putting Life On Hold

People in general became less likely to make significant life changes during times of economic uncertainty, like the Great Recession.

A Pew Research poll taken at the end of 2009, when the U.S. economy was slowly recovering from its 19-month recession, found that some 15 percent of adults younger than 35 years old had postponed getting married because of the recession while 14 percent said they had delayed having a baby.

Stuck in a House. And a Marriage.

Michigan and the Detroit area were hit hard by the recession as the real estate market collapsed. This further slowed the divorce rate, as many of these couples were underwater with their mortgage. Instead of fighting over who was going to get what property, they would have been reduced to trying to avoid being stuck with the debts accumulated during the marriage.

For most middle-class families, the marital residence is the largest asset — but after the mortgage crises and the recession — it became only a source of debt. People were delaying divorce proceedings in the hope that the housing market would eventually recover. As real estate values continue to languish, however, many have decided they can no longer wait to file for divorce.

Without a Lawyer to Save Money?

At first blush, it may seem cheaper to file for divorce without legal representation and resort to the “do-it-yourself” (DIY) divorce route. Failing to have the advice and counsel of an experienced divorce lawyer may cost much more in the long run, however. While the division of marital debts may not be as interesting as dividing assets, the failure to do it properly could leave you saddled with debts in the future you thought were your ex-spouses. And having competent legal representation to guide you through a divorce does not have to be expensive.

If you are considering filing for divorce or are involved in a child custody battle, contact an experienced Michigan divorce attorney. A knowledgeable family law attorney will help you achieve the best possible outcome, so you can quickly move on with your life.