Topic Background: Divorce rates in our country have greatly fluctuated throughout the years for various and unknown reasons. It seems apparent though that a bad economy can actually result in a decrease of the number of couples getting a divorce. Many people may think that living in a recession would stir up numerous fights between spouses about money, such that they would finally agree to just call it quits and get a divorce. That is not necessarily the case though. There have been many couples who have reported that the recession has in fact deepened their commitment to their marriage. On the other hand, the fighting and stress over financial status has shown to be too much and such couples decided divorce is the only solution. It is well-known that going through a divorce is quite expensive. Divorce is a very long and intense process which is why lawyers and other divorce-industry professionals are hired to ensure that it is done correctly. Although there are several alternatives and ways for couples to get divorced, many decide to stick it out during a time of bad economy and not get divorced.
Counterintuitivity: With the many stresses and struggles brought upon families during a recession, the initial thought would be that the number of couples getting divorced would increase. Due to many factors however, the divorce rate actually decreases during times of a poor economy.
Divorce Rates Trend: Data has presented that a decrease in divorce rates during recessions has actually shown to be a trend. In fact, divorce rates decreased during the most recent depression, the 1990-1991 recession and in the 1930’s during the Great Depression. Throughout history it has been a pattern for the divorce rates to increase directly after these bad recessions as well. During times of economic hardships in our country, couples have been more likely to stay together.
Economic Divorce: Data has shown that currently with a gradual increase in the United States economy, an increase in divorce rates has occurred as well. Some divorce lawyers have claimed that their business in their firms have increased by 20%-25%. The opposite has been seen when the economy is bad as “Federal figures suggest the divorce rate fell about 7% between 2006 and 2009, and divorce lawyers across the country saw business dry up.” Overall, a gain in the national economy leads to things like banks lending money again and improving the stock market which has nearly doubled. Several effects of an increase in national economy in turn, allow people to more comfortably get a divorce and are more likely to be able pay all the costs and fees which go with it.
Marriage as a Business: Marriage in today’s world is not just a romantic arrangement, but rather a legal and financial agreement as well. Money definitely plays a huge part in marriage and divorce. Just as the status of the economy greatly affects businesses, it affects marriage and divorce rates as well. In general, facts have shown that people who are married and stay married build tremendously more wealth than single people, which may be some more incentive for couples to stay together during a recession.
Recession’s Silver Lining: Even with the tremendous amount of financial stress brought on by a recession, a surprising amount of Americans reported positive marital benefits. Research has shown that “38% of couples who had been considering divorce prior to the recession, put their plans of getting divorced aside after their finances improved. The author of the study suggested that a possible reason for the reconnection of couples during a recession is that in the face of tough times, while some relationships spiral downwards, others prove to be resilient and become stronger.”
DIY Divorce: In an attempt to follow through with a less costly divorce, some couples have turned to DIY (Do it Yourself) divorces. A DIY divorce is a method in which cheaper alternatives to lawyers are provided, as well as divorce kits and other methods which are commonly utilized. A big risk in using a DIY divorce is that the individuals applying for a divorce will be held to the same legal standards as lawyers. Although the DIY divorce is much more cost effective, it leaves many couples with impracticable or biased contracts which they had agreed to because they did not fully understand all the legal and financial implications. Judge McCarthy has seen numerous DIY divorces and she stated that, “down the road, when the agreement they signed proves unworkable or grossly unfair, they may end up spending even more money trying to untangle the legal mess they inadvertently created.”
Topic for Smaller Papers: The effects of the economy on divorce is quite broad, so there are a few topics I could focus on for smaller papers. I think if I wrote about the whole financial side of marriage I would be able to provide a lot of information and show a relationship between the standings of the economy and marriage. Also, there is the topic that the recession actually makes marriages stronger, in which I would need a lot of research to support this claim. Overall though, studies seem to indicate that in general, divorce rates go down during recessions and rates go up when the economy is healthy.
Current State of Research Paper: I have not spent a lot of time on the format of my paper yet, as my main concern is gathering my data still and trying to better understand my topic. As I am reading articles and research, I am still discovering new information which I think would be very relevant and vital to my paper. One part of divorce which I have left out of my white paper, which seems to be very important, is the role of the matrimonial home. I will keep reading about this and find more information on it so I can add some more support to my research. I still need to find research to back up and support many claims I’ve made throughout my paper to prove their legitimacy.