Law Office of Melanie Lepp, P.C.


As economy recovers, divorce rates increase in Tennessee, across America

Recent research that will be published in the upcoming edition of Population Research and Policy Review suggests a correlation between our nation’s economic recovery and a rise in divorce rates.

Traditional belief – supported by such groups as The National Marriage Project – was that divorces dropped during tough economic times because spouses were growing closer as they fought through their bad financial situation. Study author Philip Cohen, a University of Maryland sociologist, disputes that, arguing that the data he analyzed instead shows that couples were not binding tighter during the economic downturn, they were actually just biding time until they could afford to split.

Cohen and fellow researchers studied years’ worth of marriage and divorce data, finding that there were an estimated 150,000 fewer divorces between 2009 and 2011 than would otherwise have been expected in that time. Fellow sociologist Andrew Cherlin (of Johns Hopkins University) theorizes that the new data correlates to historical divorce rate data from the Great Depression; when economic times are tight, the number of divorces drop, but as the financial outlook becomes brighter, divorces pick up again.

Neither Cohen nor Cherlin has made a definitive causal link between economic prosperity and divorce, though. In fact, other studies have found the opposite to be true; others have theorized that financial difficulties make divorce more likely, since most couples report that money is the number one cause of the majority of their arguments. The supposition being, of course, that more fighting about money leads to higher divorce rates when times are tight. More research is needed to determine the truth of this interesting sociological issue.

Are you thinking about divorce?

Regardless of your financial situation, sometimes marriages just don’t work. Even in the best of economic times, first-time marriages fail about half of the time. The rate of divorce in subsequent marriages is even higher. If you and your spouse are just starting to have trouble – or if you have thought seriously about divorce for some time – this is not a decision to make lightly. Notwithstanding the emotions involved, there are numerous practical concerns that must be addressed before a divorce can be finalized.

Key issues to consider

For example, the income you and your spouse had used to support your life together will essentially be cut in half (since it is now going to be used to support two distinct households). Are you prepared for a drastic drop in income? Do you have a nest egg or assets that could give you financial security while the divorce is pending? Or, will you need to request alimony (also called “spousal support” and “spousal maintenance”) from your spouse to give you time to get on the right financial path?


Clearly, the division of marital debts and assets is a big concern for any divorcing couple. There are related issues involving the marital home, real estate and retirement/IRA/stock accounts. However, if you and your spouse have children, making a parenting plan that sets forth custody and visitation is paramount. Any parenting and time-sharing arrangements need to be made in the best interests of the child.

Do you still have questions about divorce? Would you like more information about how Tennessee laws treat matters like custody, child support and alimony? To learn more about divorce or other family-related legal issues, speak with an experienced Tennessee family law attorney today.

the law office of smith & lepp are attorneys in murfreesboro, tennesse, serves clients in nashville, smyrna, lebanon, McMInnville, manchester, shelbyville,woodbury, lavergne, franklin, brentwood, nolenville, arrington, spring hill, columbia, Rutherford county, cannon county, warren county, dekalb count bedford county, davidson county, williamson county, maury county and throughout middle tennessee.

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