First comes love, then comes marriage, and for some, prenups and divorce.
Today, approximately one in two marriages ends in divorce and while the population of the U.S. continues to increase, new marriages have generally declined.
San Diego County Recorder assistant division chief Liz Flores said that while there has typically been mid-to-high volume for marriage licenses and civil ceremony services, marriages have decreased.
The Chula Vista branch began offering ceremonies and issuing licenses (again) in August 2012 and advertised them to the public in December.
The location can issue (up to) 14 licenses and perform 13 ceremonies a day, with Valentine’s Day and the month of June being the most popular for ceremonies.
Between August 2012 and January 2013, 798 marriage licenses were provided while 532 ceremonies were performed in Chula Vista.
In the last six years, the county of San Diego issued more than 168,000 marriage licenses, with the most in 2008 at more than 26,000, and in 2012 just over 23,000.
County supervising assessment clerk Angie Garcia, who oversees county clerical staff and also performs ceremonies, said they issue many non-civilian marriage licenses due to the large military presence in San Diego.
“We see a lot of military that are being deployed and they want to make sure their families are being taken care of,” Garcia said.
Garcia said those looking to marry range in age.
“It’s all over the board, from minors and elderly couples that had been together for a while and never got married,” she said. “The minors need to go to the juvenile courts and have the judge review the paperwork. As long as they get approval from the courts I’ve sent them as young as 16.”
Chula Vista family law attorney Victor Mordey, who practices divorce and bankruptcy, has more than 10 years experience in Chula Vista and San Diego County.
Couples tend to marry in their 30s and 40s, according to Mordey, who estimated the average couple stays married anywhere from five to 20 years.
“From my perspective I like people to know, divorce doesn’t necessary solve all your problems … you’re going to have problems after a divorce … consider whether it’s worth it,” Mordey said.
Mordey averages approximately 50 divorces each year, with the majority being first time divorcees.
Of those divorces, Mordey said prenups are not common.
“They are not as popular as they are in the press,” he said. “My take is that people are much more optimistic in staying married than getting a divorce.”
While a prenup can be viewed as smart financial planning according to legal and financial experts, they aren’t for everyone.
“People get prenups because they are concerned about a possible divorce,” Mordey said. “They are planning for the future. You can’t do a prenup without thinking that divorce is a possibility.”
Furthermore, Mordey said not many people view the prospect of divorce likely enough to get a prenup.
“A lot of people don’t think it’s worth the time, effort and money to get a prenup,” Mordey said. “It can be very expensive or relatively acceptable depending on how much money you have.”
Mordey said that often times people begin feeling the effect of a divorce before it’s finalized.
“Divorce is financially devastating,” Mordey said. “It’s hard enough in the state of California or the county of San Diego to make ends meet if you’re married and living together, but when you divorce, now you have the same income supporting two households.”
Mordey said that California is a no-fault state, meaning the reason for a divorce doesn’t legally matter.
For example, most couples cite “irreconcilable differences” when filing for divorce.
“You don’t fight drunkenness, domestic violence or infidelity,” Mordey said, adding the most common reason for divorce is infidelity.
Mordey, who has been married more than 14 years, said his profession has not directly affected his views on love, romance or marriage.
“People come to me with their own problems but just because they’re having problems doesn’t mean that their problems are my problems,” he said. “There are people who have good marriages and people who don’t. I often times find that people think they will be happier when they get divorced, but it doesn’t necessarily work out that way. My professional advice is don’t get divorced if you can stay married.”