Rising Home Prices, Falling Unemployment Nudge Divorce Rate Upward, Says Divorce Attorney Marcie Baker

Law Firm Newswire



Zephyrhills, FL (Law Firm Newswire) October 28, 2013 – A slowly-improving national economy and rising home prices may be related to another trend: a climbing divorce rate.

Unemployment continues its modest but steady decline, and home prices are rising nationwide at rates not seen since the mid-2000s. Meanwhile, divorces are climbing to pre-recession rates as well. Zephyrhills family law attorney Marcie Baker says that is probably not a coincidence.

“Home prices have a lot to do with divorce rates,” Baker said. “Say a couple have a lot of equity in their home. Getting divorced often means selling the home, which would leave each spouse with cash in hand. That’s not a bad way to start a new life. Now consider the couple that is underwater on their mortgage. Not only are they going to take a financial hit to sell the house, but they might have to go through the difficulty of a short sale. That’s enough to make some couples, on the margin, opt to try to make their marriage work, or at least peacefully cohabitate.”

According to a recent report from research analytics firm CoreLogic, housing prices nationwide climbed 12.4 percent from August, 2012, to August, 2013. That represents the 18th consecutive month in which the firm recorded a year-over-year price increase.

“Employment levels are another factor contributing to the divorce rate,” Baker added. “If one spouse is unemployed with no good job prospects, divorcing that person might feel like abandonment, causing the employed spouse to delay the decision. If both are unemployed, they may lack the funds to even file for divorce, let alone secure legal representation.”

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the unemployment rate in Florida was 7.0 percent in August, 2013, down significantly from the August, 2012 rate of 8.6 percent. The national unemployment rate also declined during that period, albeit at a more modest pace, from 8.1 percent to 7.3 percent.

“Everyone hopes their marriage will work out,” Baker said, “but when they don’t, it is best to move on and make a fresh start. If an improving economy is enabling couples to divorce when necessary, I’d say that’s a positive trend.”