It has long been held that finances are one of the top, if not the top, cause of divorce. However, the current economic recession may be debunking that theory as a myth after all. Since the beginning of recession in 2007, divorce filings in the United States are down over ten percent. Here in Central Florida it is no different with both Orange and Seminole counties seeing over a ten percent drop in divorce filings.
One would expect just the opposite to occur with unemployment climbing to over ten percent, foreclosures continuing to mount and the value of people’s retirement accounts and home equity crashing down to next to nothing or worse. However, a look back at history shows this to be the norm rather than the exception. As Washington Post columnist Michael Gerson noted, “During the Great Depression – with about a quarter of Americans out of work – crime and divorce declined”.
There is no question that financial problems create more stress on a marriage, so the question becomes, why are couples staying married during these economic downturns. The answer is relatively simple. Money. During the housing bubble, the home values in Orlando and all of Central Florida skyrocketed. In most cases, the increased equity in houses allowed couples to sell the marital home and for each of them to walk away with money to use for a down payment for their own home or to start a new life. Today, however, just the opposite is true. Many couples find that they owe substantially more money on their home than its actually worth. Factor in the unemployment rate and the skyrocketing credit card debt, attorneys fees and you have a recipe that makes divorce too expensive for many people at this time.
Unfortunately this is not resulting in people making a commitment to fix and improve their marriage. Instead they are opting to postpone their divorce and live in separate parts of the house while riding out the downturn in the economy. The danger in this lies with increasing arguments that can escalate into Domestic Violence. Add children to the household and this can be a recipe for disaster.