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As economy improves, unhappy couples look to divorce

Millions of Americans were directly and adversely impacted by the 2008 U.S. financial collapse. As husbands and wives lost jobs and saw their investment and retirement accounts depleted, many simply resigned to hunker down and attempt to weather the storm.

A recent study, which will be published in the Population Research and Policy Review, notes that during 2008 to 2009 the U.S. divorce rate dropped. This drop had some concluding the most recent recession actually served to bring couples closer. However, as the economy showed signs of recovery in 2011, the divorce rate again began to rise. Leading many to speculate that it's more likely unhappy married couples were forced to stay together due to difficult financial circumstances.

Financial hardships are often a cause of conflict between married couples and arguments over finances and debt often serve to drive a couple towards divorce. When one spouse doesn't work or loses his or her job, a couple often feels as though there is no other option than to stick together. However, in marriages where both spouses work and have some degree of financial independence, both likely have more financial resources to draw upon which makes divorce a more viable option.

Attempting to predict or determine how finances and economic changes impact the American divorce rate, however, is not easy. Numerous studies have been conducted related to this topic and many have resulted in conflicting data and statistics. It seems most likely, however, that unhappy couples who have less financial resources may simply be forced to stay together until one or both are able to gather the resources to file for divorce.

Many Minnesotans are still reeling from the recent economic collapse. For those who have stayed in an unhappy marriage because it didn't seem possible to leave, the economic recovery presents many encouraging opportunities. Consulting with a divorce attorney is the first step in moving towards a happier future.

Source: Los Angeles Times, "Divorces rise as economy recovers, study finds," Emily Alpert Reyes, Jan. 27, 2014

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