Are Divorce Filings Increasing In Indiana? 2009 Indiana Law Statistics
Total civil filings dropped. The 2009 drop in total civil filings looks to be due to a decrease from the high level of foreclosure and collection filings from 2008.
Despite the total civil filings dropping, domestic relations ("DR") filings posted their highest numbers this decade. DR filings increased by 8% from 2008. DR cases are defined as cases "involving petitions for dissolution of marriage, legal separation, and petitions to establish child support". A majority of DR cases are divorces.
So does the increase in DR filings mean that there was an increase in divorce filings? It would sure seem so but part of the reason that the number DR cases was high for 2009 is because the Indiana Supreme Court, Division of Administration had instructed that in cases in which paternity of a child had been established by affidavit, the proper case type was DR for subsequent child support petition. For calendar year 2010, this has been reverted to the previous instruction that the JP case type, rather than the DR case type, should be used where paternity has been established by affidavit. This may be a leading reason for the statistically difference in both the DR (increased) and JP/paternity (decreased) cases from the previous year. Numbers from 2010 should help clear this up.
However, if divorce filings are up then perhaps it is due to the rebound effect from previous years. Over the past couple years its been suggested that couples who might otherwise divorce were not divorcing due to the uncertain economy. With home values down, lost jobs, credit tightening, and the recession, separating one household into two is much more difficult for families. People simply could not afford to get divorced. But as I heard one attorney say "you can only fake happy so long". Several other articles seem to agree that an economy-related "divorce rebound" might be already occurring in other states - see here and here.
It is also worth pointing out some other interesting family law statistics based on the 2009 numbers:
- Civil protective order filings continue to increase. These are up 33% since 2000.
- New paternity case filings are down 19% from last year.
- Guardianships are slightly down but still seem to be trending up over the decade.
- New adoptions are at the second lowest level this decade.