The Changing Marriage “Market”—and What It Means for Your Divorce Practice

The Changing Marriage “Market”—and What It Means for Your Divorce Practice

One of the ongoing jokes in the online world is the “Millennials are killing” meme. Young adults have been blamed for the decline of just about everything: shopping malls, golf, breakfast cereal.

There’s something else young people these days are being blamed for—the decline in divorce.

If your law firm has a robust divorce practice, you might not find that very funny. Regardless, your business could be facing some big changes.

Maybe you’ve already seen evidence of this. In any case, the data is incontrovertible:

People are marrying later.

An increasing percentage of the population isn’t getting married, period.

And yes, analysts believe that millennials are the main drivers of these trends. “Millennials” are generally defined as being people in their 20’s and early 30’s, although the demographic has a somewhat blurry division between them and their neighboring generations. In any case, why might this group be responsible for this changing market?

There are many theories. The Great Recession has been blamed for a lot of things including making it harder for younger generations to get their careers started. And that has made them less likely to get married, at least while in their 20s and early 30s. In addition to slow career progress, student debt and their associated payments has made paying for a wedding – even with help from Mom and Dad – a daunting prospect for many young Americans.

Another school of thought holds that these young people have seen their parents divorce. And they don’t want to risk that happening to them by getting married themselves.

Whatever the reasons, these trends point to an incontrovertible fact: The U.S. divorce rate has been steadily declining in the 21st century. The data backs up that conclusion:

A table showing declining divorce rates over recent years.

These trends aren’t consistent across every city and every state. Your mileage may vary, so to speak. And if your firm has built a reputation as the best divorce practice in your area, you might not even see much of a falling-off in business. People are still getting divorced, after all. When this happens, they still need a firm they can trust. They’ll still look for a firm with demonstrated expertise at providing quality service (and probably comfort) to numerous clients.

Still, these trend lines suggest that the need for divorce attorneys may decline in the coming years. And that means your firm needs to be prepared for new possibilities.

Our plan in the next two posts on this topic is to help you do just that. Here’s what we’ll examine:

  • What do these changes in the marriage and divorce rates mean for my law firm? How should I market my legal services in this changing marketplace?
  • What are the emerging opportunities in the “marriage market”?

Millennials aren’t likely to actually kill off divorce—or marriage, for that matter. But it looks like their generation is bringing some new things to life.

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