Study shows divorce cases are up as economy recovers

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. - A rebound in the economy is producing a rebound in divorce court. Now that the economy is starting to improve, it appears more people are deciding that it’s a good time to call it quits.

Couples forced to stay together during the recession are finally able to permanently separate as the improving economy brings in more available money.

Bakersfield attorney Nicholas Azemika is noticing a change just as the economy begins to recover.

“In Kern County, typically family law, there’s always an increase in filings,” he said.

A study to be published in Population Research and Policy Reviews, finds fewer couples nationwide split during the recession and may have been waiting until they could afford to file for divorce.

“When the real estate market went crazy, and you had people with equity in their homes, all of a sudden you started seeing spouses coming in saying ‘oh, okay if I get divorced, I get half of that equity in that house? Yup,’” he said.

Nationwide, the divorce rate among married women dropped from 2.09% to 1.95%, but began to climb in both 2010 and 2011. 

Leaders with Kern County’s Family and Law Division are also noticing the trend here at home.

“People in marriage fight over sex, power and money,” said Azemika.

Five thousand people filed for divorce last year, that’s a little over four hundred a month.

“There’s a lot of reasons why they go through divorce, but the biggest reason is financial stress,” said Garro Ellis, financial advisor for Money Wise.

Filing for divorce can cost $500 dollars and after lawyer and court costs, it all adds up to more than $10,000, which for some couples it’s a split they can now afford.

“Now that the economy is recovering, people are more comfortable with stock prices up, 401k’s are up, home prices are up. They are feeling more comfortable pulling the trigger,” said Ellis.

About five hundred people filed cases at Kern County Family Law Division last month and leaders predict those divorce numbers could get even higher.

Divorce cases can be settled in 60 days and some take about two years.