As the economy and housing markets rebound, divorces surge

According to a report by Bloomberg News, there may be a substantial connection between the surge in U.S. divorces in recent years and the improving economy. Indeed, while the number of divorces was at a 40-year low in 2009 - the year that the 18-month recession officially ended - 2012 marked the third straight year in which divorces increased. In fact, data released by the U.S. Census Bureau indicates that roughly 2.4 million American couples got divorced in 2012.

One of the main reasons offered for this connection is simply that an improving economy provides splitting couples with greater financial security as they begin their separate lives. Put another way, couples just could not afford to get divorced during the recession.

For example, during divorces, couples often sell their home and split the proceeds. In many cases, couples rely upon these funds to start anew. However, following the housing bust of 2008, many couples found themselves underwater on their mortgages - meaning there would be no profits to share should they divorce and attempt to sell their home. Consequently, given the recent housing rebound, many couples are now beginning to reconsider divorces that they may have been postponing due to the weak economy and housing market.

It is also likely that home values are not the only financial consideration that came into play for couples contemplating divorce in the past. Indeed, the recent uptick in divorces interestingly coincides with an increase in household net worth. According to the recent Bloomberg report - citing Federal Reserve data - household net worth for the third quarter of 2013 was more than $8 trillion higher than the pre-recession peak of $69 trillion during the third quarter of 2007. For many couples, it is possible that this increase in net worth is substantial enough to persuade them to seek divorce.

More net worth can complicate property division during an Illinois divorce

While a larger household net worth can often provide the financial security required to seek a divorce, it can also make the divorce more complicated, particularly if the couple has accumulated significant property over several years of marriage. For instance, complex divorces can often involve the division of assets such as retirement accounts and businesses, in addition to the marital home.

Adding to the complexity of property division in Illinois is the fact that marital property - property acquired during the marriage - is divided equitably during divorce, not equally. This means that property is not just divided in a 50/50 split, and that multiple factors may come into play when property is apportioned between ex-spouses. Some of the factors considered in Illinois when dividing marital property include, but are not limited to:

  • The age, occupation, health, and sources of income, employability and needs of each spouse
  • The value of the property assigned to each spouse
  • The duration of the marriage
  • The reasonable opportunity of each spouse for future acquisition of assets and income
  • Any antenuptial agreements between the spouses

Sadly, given the complexity of property division, the simply outline provided in this article is merely a small portion of what a person contemplating divorce should know. Accordingly, if you are currently considering pursuing a divorce, it is often best to seek the counsel of an experienced divorce attorney. A skilled attorney can assist in evaluating your circumstances and help ensure you are awarded your fair share of the marital estate.