Divorce is difficult.
That may be the understatement of the year. Divorce, depending on the specifics of the circumstance, can be downright destructive to the lives of those involved. From emotions to finances, divorce is like a bull in a China shop shattering, chipping, and cracking everything in its path. However, for those choosing divorce, the pain is worth it-even necessary-for future happiness. In New York, it seems that more and more couples are looking to divorce or dissolution by annulment to find that future happiness.
In New York, divorce rates are on the rise. According to preliminary data released by the state Health Department, divorce and dissolution by annulment went up 3 percent from 2011 to 2012 (DeMasi, 2014). Divorce rates dipped in 2008 and sunk lower still in 2009. However, since 2009, divorce and dissolution rates have increased nearly 17 percent in the state of New York (DeMasi, 2014).
Why is divorce on the rise? Several theories have been put forward to explain the increase including the recent economic recession and changes to divorce law in the state of New York.
During tough economic times, whether those times be spread across the nation or isolated to an individual household, a couple may stay together out of necessity. They may not be able to afford a divorce and the cost of having two separate households. Even if they can afford the cost of attorneys and divorce proceedings, economic uncertainty, such as rumored layoffs at work, may keep them together.
Philip Cohen, a sociologist at the Maryland Population Research Center at the University of Maryland, says “In this recession, it appears that the increased costs were a bigger factor than the increased strains, so the divorce rate fell temporally before rebounding when people were able to manage the expense and related difficulties of the divorce itself,” (DeMasi, 2014). There is some historical evidence to back Cohen up. According to Andrew Cherlin, a sociologist at John Hopkins University, the same thing happened during the Great Depression; people simply couldn’t afford to get divorced (Hillin, 2014).
This may leave people thinking a better economy produces more divorce. However, Cohen cautions that “divorce rates resulting from changing economic conditions may reflect the timing of divorce more than the odds of divorce,” (Hillin, 2014). Basically, these couples were likely to get divorced regardless of the state of the economy-it was only a matter of when.
Another theory behind the rise in divorce and dissolutions in the state of New York is changes to the law. In October 2010, New York changed its laws to allow what are commonly known as “no fault” divorces (DeMasi, 2014). Basically, in states that don’t allow “no fault” divorces, a spouse has to prove grounds for a divorce. “There are any number of things that can contribute to people getting divorces, but surely if you just compare 2009 to 2010, 2011, and 2012, there could be some correlation between no-fault and the number of divorces,” says Bruce Wagner a divorce attorney in New York (DeMasi, 2014).
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