Recessions are marked by a collective exercise in tightening belts, scrutinizing expenses, and letting go of the “nice to have” in favor of the “need to have.” And in light of this, it’s perfectly sensible to assume that divorce lawyers are scrambling for clients and hoping for the economy to rebound so that more folks out there can, well, afford to divorce.
It’s a sensible assumption; and one with some credence, given a late 2008 survey by the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers confirming that national economic downturns typically lead to fewer divorces. Yet according to some divorce lawyers who serve wealthy clients, this sensible and credible assumption is another thing: flat out wrong.
As reported by the National Law Journal (15 June/09), business is booming for some divorce lawyers who serve higher-end clients – and it’s all thanks to the recession.
Conversely, the recession is also adding immense complexity to divorce cases that started before the economic crisis hit, as plummeting asset values are dramatically altering settlement or resolution realities. In many cases, heavily contested assets – such as stocks – are now worth significantly less (or even worthless).
Put both of these consequences together – wealthy clients seeing this as a good time to divorce, and wealthy clients mired in the challenge of evaluating assets that have changed dramatically – and it all adds up to one thing: many divorce lawyers serving wealthy clients are calling this Great Recession a boom, not a bust.