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Maryland divorce rate declines; economy a cause?

Even when Maryland spouses mutually agree to go their separate ways and do so on relatively friendly terms, the divorce process can still be difficult as it may involve a number of complicated issues. Because of the complexity of divorce, it may come as no surprise that it can also be expensive. That may help explain why divorce rates are falling in these tough economic times, although other factors could certainly be at play as well.

Nationally, the divorce rate has fallen by five points since 1996 according to the Census Bureau. Here in Maryland, the rate is at 9.4 percent, ranking it as holding the fourth lowest divorce rate in the nation. Nearby Virginia has a rate of 10 percent, making it the ninth lowest divorce rate.

The reason for the decline could be due to the economy. Just as consumers are cutting back on purchases, they also may be cutting back on divorces, which tend to be expensive. Nonetheless, it will be interesting to note whether the divorce rate starts climbing now that the national economy is slowly recovering.

Yet regardless of the economy, divorce may simply be a necessity for many Maryland couples. Simply put, when spouses wish to separate, the pain of staying in the marriage may outweigh the costs of ending the marriage. Moreover, there are ways to dissolve a marriage that are cost-effective. For example, when the spouses agree on many of the issues, they may be able to seek a divorce mediation, which avoids the costly arena of the courtroom. Of course, the courtroom is not always avoidable; in which case laying out a clear divorce plan beforehand may be beneficial.

Source: NBC 4 Washington, "Divorce Rate Falling Nationwide," John Wist, Feb. 8, 2012

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