If you are facing a divorce, chances are you are wrought with worry about how this is going to turn out. What you are feeling is completely normal and okay. It is perfectly acceptable to feel lost, confused, or afraid during this period of time. Your legal counsel, friends, and family will certainly help you along the way and ensure you get through this troubling time.
However, it is not acceptable to go through the divorce without knowledge of some common myths and facts surrounding the process. Too often, people going through divorce imagine scenarios common in movies and television – loads of yelling, screaming, one spouse getting a disproportionate amount of property or assets awarded to them, or children acting out as a consequence of the divorce.
This article seeks to deliver the facts and serve as a brief guide for those involved in a divorce. The best advice, however, comes from your own legal counsel.
Statistics of Divorce
First, it is important to understand the statistics and demographics of people getting divorced. It is comforting to know these numbers, as it lets you know that you are not alone in your situation.
First, note that divorce rates have been on the decline since the 80s. The reason to mention this is not to make anyone feel poorly about divorcing, but to relate it back to the old phrase many of us have heard bandied about – that 50% of marriages end in divorce. This actually originated during the 1980s and has of course changed over the years to about 42-45% of marriages. Bear in mind this statistic is only for divorce, not legal separation.
The statistic climbs as the amount of marriages increases: 60% of second marriages end in divorce, and 73% of third marriages end in divorce.
If we are talking gender, 22% of women and 21% of men have been divorced at least once in their lives.
Now, let’s examine the ages of divorcees:
For married women under 20 years old, 27.6% of their marriages ended in divorce. This is compared to 11.7% of men of the same age group.
For women 20-24 years old, 36.6% of marriages ended in divorce, compared to 38.8% of men in that age group.
For women aged 25-29 years old, 16.4% of marriages ended in divorce, compared to 22.3% of men in that age group.
For women aged 30-34 years old, 8.5% of marriages ended in divorce, compared to 11.6 % of men in that age group.
For women aged 35-39 years old, 5.1% of marriages ended in divorce, compared to 6.5% for men in that age group.
Divorce also varies by state. Each state has its own rates of divorce. In the United States, the states with the lowest divorce rates as of 2015 were as follows:
The states with the highest rates of divorce were:
9.2 out of every 1000 USA residents divorce every year. Divorce rates tend to be higher in the South, and the lowest in the Northeast region of the United States.
On Children and Divorce
Each and every child handles their parents’ divorce in their own way. No matter their age, children are affected by divorce. Some believe that babies, for example, lack awareness as to what is going on emotionally in the household. The truth of the matter is that infants have the ability to pick up on the energy contained within the home.
While the marriage was intact, interactions with the baby were likely relaxed and filled with smiles. Interactions during divorce may lack the nurturing qualities often found in happy interactions. They may be forced and contrived, as parents focus more on the divorce and their feelings of uncertainty than interacting fully with their baby.
Younger children, such as those of toddler or grade-school age, may display signs of fear and confusion when it comes to their parents’ divorce. Parents who feel overly hurt or overwhelmed by the process often rely on their child for comfort – which is not healthy for anyone.
Children lack the emotional capabilities of comforting a grieving adult, and this leads to a feeling of stress. Furthermore, children can experience harm when they misinterpret a divorce. They may, for example, feel that they are the cause of the divorce. Thus, it is very important that parents explain what is happening in an age appropriate way.
The fact of the matter is, being open and honest with children is the way to go. Get together with your spouse and civilly explain what is happening. Remind your child that you love them very much, and this divorce is NOT their fault. Each of you should assure your child that even though you will not be married any longer, you will always love the child and be their parent. Explain to them that it is okay to feel sad and upset, as it is normal to feel this way for everybody.
Also be sure to keep a careful watch on your child. Signs of distress include withdrawing or becoming aggressive. Teens are better at handling these matters than toddlers, but still experience feelings of sadness and loss. Watch your teenager for signs of acting out and trouble at school.
If necessary, you may wish to have your children attend counseling or therapy to help cope with this stressful time.
Divorce Facts for Women
Women and men deal with divorce in different ways, and the outcomes are different for each gender. For example, one big indicator of divorce is having a lot of money arguments. Women and men often think differently about money.
No matter how much money each party makes, arguing about it is a top indicator of divorce. Some people may believe that if they had had more money at their disposal, their divorce may have been avoided. This is simply not the case.
While it is commonly believed that men are the ones who set a divorce in motion, it is actually women who initiate the divorce most often. 69% of all divorce cases are initiated by women. Furthermore, the number of sexual partners that a woman had before getting married can also play into her likelihood of getting divorced. Women who have had more than ten sexual partners are more likely to get a divorce. This is an interesting contrast to women with three to nine sexual partners, who are less likely to get a divorce than women who have had only two sexual partners.
Lastly, women should not feel bad if pornography has affected their marriage. It is actually a cause of couples drifting apart. One study from the University of Oklahoma found that people who began consuming pornography after marriage doubled the risk of going through a divorce. The pornographic material had a stronger effect on women, as the rate of divorce tripled if they began watching such material after marriage.
Divorce Facts for Men
Popular belief tells us that men are the ones who initiate divorce more often than women, although as previously discussed, this is simply not true. Divorces are initiated more often by women. While women tend to be more emotional when it comes to matters like divorce and other family issues, men also feel the pain of splitting up.
Men initiate divorce for a number of reasons. Men may feel disrespected in their marriages. As with women, money may be a factor leading to more arguments than agreements. Men may also lack good influences about what makes a good marriage. For example, his friends may not be married and still living a life with no commitments. There may also be disagreements about how to raise children as a factor.
Some research indicates men actually suffer greater emotional pain after the divorce, says an article from Psychology Today. Women actually “bounce back” faster, as they usually have strong emotional ties through their network of family and friends.
Men are often taught growing up that “boys don’t cry” and are told they have to be tough. However, men’s anxiety rises rather sharply during and after a divorce takes place. Losing a companion may lead to greater levels of anxious feelings in men. Divorce and health for men also have a correlation; Harvard Medical School indicates that married men are healthier than their unmarried or divorced counterparts. Divorced men have a higher risk of high blood pressure, strokes, and heart disease.
Perhaps the most alarming fact for men is the likelihood of using hard drugs and alcohol increases when divorce is on the table. Sociologists from several universities examined data from women and men who discussed their alcohol usage during divorce.
One lead researcher explained men’s use of alcohol as an example of how men deal with their issues by using externalizing methods, such as alcohol use, whereas women handle their issues in an internalizing way (developing depression, for example).
It’s Not Like the Movies
In movies and television, it always seems that divorces are heated battles in which one spouse storms out of the house during an argument, running off to some equally-nice house that they just so happen to own on the other side of town. Mothers always get custody of the children, and the judge gives them more than their fair share while the husband is left with crumbs.
These are nothing more than the creations of Hollywood. In reality, divorce can be civil, and awards are fairly meted out.
If a divorcing person owns a second home where they can stay while the divorce is being finalized, they are rather fortunate. The reality is that many couples must live together while they sort things out during the divorce, or as a co-parenting arrangement.
As far as custody is concerned, decisions are made regarding what will better impact the children. Their best interests are taken to heart when making these choices. The gender of either parent plays no role in such matters.
Furthermore, you need not have a battlefield when you set your divorce in motion. You and your spouse can do what is known as a collaborative divorce and undergo the mediation process. You can hire an attorney who focuses more on resolving issues within your divorce. You and your spouse can absolutely sit down, decide who gets what, and civilly decide everything with the help of your legal counsel.
Your gender will also not have an effect upon receipt of spousal support. These payments are no longer based upon outdated statistics, and reflect the fact that women nowadays often earn as much or more than their husbands. Any decisions regarding spousal support are based upon the economic situations of each spouse, with no mind paid to their gender. New York, for example, has gender-neutral support guidelines in place.
In this same vein, committing adultery will not make you lose everything you’ve ever worked for. Rather, wasteful dissipation of marital assets – in other words, spending money rather recklessly on pursuits of gambling or unnecessary shopping, among other things – will affect asset distribution.
Divorce is an uncertain time for everyone. It is also wrought with myths and beliefs that plague those who have never dealt with such an issue.
It is important to understand that you are not alone in your fight – many people like you are going through the same issue, no matter their age or gender. You should go into this time in your life knowing the fact and figures so you can approach this matter with confidence and lack of fear.
By having this knowledge, you will have the power to help yourself, your children, your attorney, and your soon-to-be ex-spouse get this matter resolved in an efficient and fair way. Stay strong as you work through this, and do not be afraid to ask for help from your legal counsel, family, or friends.