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As Economy Strengthens, Divorce Filings Increase

When times get tough economically, people cut back -- on cars, the size of the homes they buy, their vacations, hobbies and virtually everything else they think they might be unable to afford.

That includes divorce. Many family law attorneys across the country have said that, as the recession grew over the past few years, their divorce clients decreased. The drop had less to do with the perceived costs related to the divorce itself than to factors such as sudden job losses and plummeting home values that made sales and virtually every other type of significant move -- such as a divorce -- impossible for many people.

That trend appears to be reversing. Many of the same attorneys who are members of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers and reported fewer divorce cases in 2009 (the most recent year that data are available) now say that many new clients are coming through their office doors once again.

That includes the president of the Academy, Linda Lea Viken. She states that home values have rebounded significantly in her area of South Dakota owing to price increases in agricultural commodities, and that this has reenergized her divorce practice, which she describes as "moving full steam ahead." She says she is about 25 percent busier than during the same period in 2009.

Other attorneys tell similar stories, citing to the strengthening economy, a stabilizing house market and an improved jobs picture. "There is huge pent-up demand," says one.

Related Resource: Financial Times, "Recovery prompts US divorce rebound" April 22, 2011

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