As Home Values Rise, So Does Divorce
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The Fiscal Times
May 17, 2013

Couples everywhere are sighing in relief that the economy and housing market are recovering – not just because they have more money in their pocket, but because they can finally split up.

Industry experts have recently seen a spike in divorce filings, reports NBC News. Gary Silverman, a divorce lawyer in Reno, Nevada, has seen a 25 to 50 percent increase over the past year, and believes it’s due to “pent up demand.”  

Alton L. Abramowitz, a New York City divorce lawyer and president of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers, agrees: “There’s been an uptick in divorces in general going on over the last several months,” he told NBC News. 

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A few years ago, couples were sticking it out and postponing divorce while they waited for underwater mortgages to come up for air, or for their homes to sell in the sluggish market. In the same way workers felt the poor economy forced them to stay in bad jobs , spouses felt the poor housing market forced them to stay in unhappy marriages.

Richard Komaiko, co-founder of AttorneyFee.com, has been comparing housing market data, job creation trends and the number of people coming to his site for divorce advice. He told NBC News he’s seen a direct correlation between the housing curve and divorce curve. “Increased mobility – both personal and career – acts as a pressure valve for backlogged marital discontent.”

Of course, the recession itself likely fueled marital dissatisfaction. A 2011 survey from the University of Virginia found that 29 percent of couples reported the economic downturn strained their relationship. Research also shows that couples who argue frequently about money are at a higher risk of divorce.

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The spike in divorce doesn’t appear to be slowing down anytime soon. Though the overall divorce rate is declining (just as marriage rates are), the divorce rate for Americans over the age of 50 has slowly been on the rise –doubling between 1990 and 2009. And with the fiscal cliff tax law that passed in January, some expect to see an increase in couples making more than $450,000 filing for divorce. Under the new law, if they divorced and filed as “single,” they could save over $27,000 a year.

Filing for divorce, however, will cost you. While many lawyers advertise bargain prices for “quick and easy” divorces for $100-$300 – that’s rarely the reality. The average divorce costs more in the range of $15,000 to $30,000, according to Sari Friedman, a matrimonial lawyer in New York City.

With the recent spike, the unhappy couples involved face long legal battles and high costs – but divorce industry professionals are likely celebrating.

Blaire Briody is a contributing editor at The Fiscal Times. Her work has appeared in The New York Times, Popular Science, Publishers Weekly, among others.