The Future of Divorce Part II: Predictions for 2014 and Beyond

As the New Year approaches, we continue our look at the future of divorce law.  The following is the second part of our predictions for the future of divorce in 2014 and beyond:

  1. The Divorce Rate May Rise—there are several factors that might contribute to a rise in the already staggering divorce rate in the coming years.  First, divorces have skyrocketed amongst older adults.  More Americans over the age of 50 are now divorced rather than widowed, a marked change from previous decades.  Most attribute this to demographic factors, including the increase in the life expectancy of adults.  As the lifespan of Americans continues to rise and the overall age of the population increases, it seems like divorce rates will also jump.  Next, some speculate that the new healthcare system may lead to divorces between couples in order to obtain health insurance.  While this might seem rather extreme, some married spouses have already taken this step.  Under the Affordable Healthcare Act, married couples can be required to pay premiums far in excess of their single counterparts.  With some many struggling to pay their bills in this shaky economy, the strain of healthcare premiums may signal the end of the marriage for some Americans.  Lastly, the continued recession may contribute to a rise in the divorce rate.  Money is the most common factor leading to the breakdown of a marriage, and it makes sense that when times are tight, the stress and anxiety over finances will end an increasing number of marriages.
  2. More Americans Will Elect to Divorce Without a Lawyer—studies reveal that the number one concern of those considering divorce is cost.  Previously, it had been child custody.  Many Americans are struggling in this down economy, and with the rise in self-help tools available on the internet, more and more are electing to pursue a divorce sans attorney.  For most, this short-term savings will result in long-term loses, as no amount of self-help material can provide a layperson with the years of knowledge a divorce attorney would provide.  Regardless, it appears likely the number of do-it-yourself divorcers will continue to climb in 2014 and beyond.
  3. Joint Physical Custody Will Prevail—in the past, the “custody norm” was for the mother to obtain primary custody with the father having visitation on weekends and holidays.  This has all changed.  Today, shared custody, wherein both parents have the children for an equal or nearly equal amount of time, has become the most popular custody arrangement and one favored by the courts.  This new norm will continue to grow in the coming years.  Additionally, there has been a rise in the number of fathers obtaining primary custody of their children when the situation so warrants.  It seems likely this previously rare phenomenon will grow, as courts come to view both parents as equally important in the lives of their children.
  4. Domestic Violence Will Increase—sadly, the past few years have seen growth in the rates of domestic violence.  The recent tragedy in Tennessee wherein a woman shot her husband right outside their attorney’s office serves to highlight this mounting problem.  In tough economic times, domestic violence occurs more frequently.  As the country’s financial conditions continue to take a few dips before finding the path to recovery, domestic violence rates could swell.
  5. Court Involvement in Co-habitation Break-ups May Rise—the number of Americans electing to simply co-habitat instead of marrying has sharply climbed in the past few years and is expected to continue to increase.  As more and more couples live together, have children, and acquire property as a unit, outside of the laws of marriage, court intervention will be necessary to resolve issues that traditionally would have come under the realm of a divorce court.

In the coming year, if you find yourself contemplating divorce or mulling over any other family law issue, Matthew S. Poole is here to assist you.  A premier divorce attorney in the Jackson, Mississippi area, Matthew Poole will provide you with exemplary legal services.  Call Matthew today at (601) 573-7429 for a free initial consultation.