Enter multiple symbols separated by commas

The Big Business of Divorce

Every year in the United States, there are one million divorces. In many respects, that’s two million people beginning life anew.


What’s more, about 67 percent of second marriages end in divorce, and the percentage is even worse for third marriages.

The need for everything — from lawyers to therapists to movers — is astounding. As morbid as it may sound, in the business world, that would be considered a big market.

“If you think about the bridal industry, it’s a $2 billion industry,” said Francine Baras, co-founder of Start Over Smart, an expo business that brings together services for the newly divorced. “No one has a number for the amount of money that is probably in the divorce industry.

“And not only is the market underserved, it has not actually been looked at as a niche."

Until now.

Businesses want to serve this consumer need, but do it without amplifying the label of “divorce”, which still carries a heavily negative connotation.

“We see divorce as a huge business,” said Start Over Smart’s other co-founder Nicole Baras. “We went into the expo business to help people, give them the support that they need.

“What ended up coming out of that is ‘wow’, this is a really big industry, and it's going to grow.”

The need for a lawyer is relatively obvious. But this business opportunity is far-reaching, even connecting to the insurance industry.

“In 1960, when you look at adults, it’s over 70 percent that were married,” said Jane Conti, Vice President at New York Life. “If you look at 2010 statistics, it's less than 50 percent, so more of their business is working with individuals who are divorced or who are separated.”

Estimates vary widely on how big the divorce business actually is. However, one thing is for sure: It’s in the billions.

And the recovery from the 2009 stock market lows has actually given the market a boost. For one, the dynamic has returned to dividing assets, as opposed to dividing debts.

In the divorce economy, assets divided range from yachts…to mansions…to cash.

And the same is true on Wall Street.

“There are many Wall Street people who are now divorcing because their investment accounts have come back again,” divorce lawyer David Mejias said. “Their bonuses are coming back. Their deferred compensation is coming back, and now they have assets they can split again."

-By CNBC’s Brian Shactman
@bshactman-CNBC's Linda Sittenfeld contributed to this report

Contact U.S. News


    Get the best of CNBC in your inbox

    Please choose a subscription

    Please enter a valid email address
    To learn more about how we use your information,
    please read our Privacy Policy.

Don't Miss

  • Why women cheat?

    Is cheating bad? Why do women cheat? The founder and CEO of affair website Ashley Madison tells all, including why he has his eye on China.

  • Judge's gavel

    The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority disciplined several financial services firms and individuals in May 2015.

  • Fine wines & finance

    Why you should try something a little different on date night. Bring the romance and champagne, and a calculator too. Every once in a while have a date to talk money and finance, and keep an important part of your relationship on track. Reporter Sharon Epperson talks to a couple who does just that.

U.S. Video

  • Cramer: Here's a sign the market could rally

    Wall Street's been soaking in red, but "Mad Money" host Jim Cramer has one signal to watch for that could point to another run.

  • Burger war maneuvers

    Cramer looks at the number of company's selling burgers and tries to determine the quality names, as well as those to avoid.

  • Cramer: What's driving defense?

    Cramer says that even though President Obama has made it clear the US can no longer be the world's policeman, the country can become the world's arms dealer. Profiting from defense spending.