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How will stay-at-home orders likely affect Texas divorce rates?

 Posted on May 01, 2020 in Divorce

Many families in Texas may welcome the extra time spent together due to Gov. Greg Abbott's stay-at-home order during the current health care situation.

But for others, the increased interaction may aggravate an already tense situation between spouses whose marriages were previously strained. Many believe it will lead to an increase in divorces.

Weighing the economic impact

But some experts are saying, “not so fast.” While some marriages may be strengthened during this period, others believe the number of divorces could actually decrease due to financial considerations related to lost income.

As of April 11, more than 1 million Texans had filed for unemployment benefits since March 15, as restaurants, retail stores, bars and other so-called non-essential businesses reduced hours or shut down operations while the stay-at-home order is in effect.

Divorce filings decrease in one county

An analysis of limited data shows at least one county reporting a decrease in divorce filings over the past month. The Austin Statesman reports filings in Travis County decreased by 46% compared to the same period in 2019, and by 36% from 2018.

Experts say it's much too early to draw any definitive conclusion between the current situation and any divorce trends. Still, they say it's logical that spouses who intended to separate from their partner before the lockdown may have delayed taking action due to financial reasons.

Divorce rates declined after the 2008 recession

The number of divorces in the United States rapidly increased in the mid-1990s until peaking in 2008, when the last financial crisis hit the nation. The next year when many people were in the throes of financial distress, the country reported roughly 90,000 fewer divorces.

While the stock market and the nation eventually recovered, U.S. divorce rates saw a steady decrease, dropping by 18% from 2008 to 2016, according to research done by the University of Maryland. If the current economic crisis persists for a significant period, experts believe divorce rates could continue to decline.

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