Tag: Divorce Benefits

Is Divorce Genetic?

Are children of divorced parents more likely to get divorced than those who grew up in two-parent families? University researchers in Virginia and in Sweden are looking into the question of whether divorce is genetic or psychological. The results are surprising.

New Study

According to the report: people who were adopted resembled their biological — but not adoptive — parents and siblings in their histories of divorce.

The report also found consistent evidence that genetic factors primarily explained the “intergenerational transmission of divorce.”

The study’s findings about genes and divorce are notable because they diverge from the predominant narrative in divorce, that the offspring of divorced parents are more likely to get divorced because they see their parents struggling to manage conflict or lacking the necessary commitment, and they grow up to internalize that behavior.

Serotonin and Divorce

I’ve written about genes and divorce before. Other scientists are finding that the fault for divorce may reside in our genetic code. One gene involved in the regulation of serotonin can predict how much our emotions affect our relationships.

Researchers found a link between relationship fulfillment and a gene variant, or “allele,” known as 5-HTTLPR. All humans inherit a copy of this gene variant from each parent.

Study participants with two short 5-HTTLPR alleles were found to be most unhappy in their marriages when there was anger and contempt. They were most happy when there was humor and affection.

By contrast, those with one or two long alleles were far less bothered by the emotional tenor of their marriages.

The new findings don’t mean that couples with different variations of 5-HTTLPR are incompatible, but couples with two short alleles are likelier to thrive in a good relationship and suffer in a bad one.

What Causes Divorce?

Nearly all the prior literature emphasized that divorce was transmitted across generations psychologically, and the recent results about genes contradict that, suggesting that genetic factors are more important.

By recognizing the role that genetics plays in the transmission of divorce, therapists may be able to better identify more appropriate targets when helping distressed couples.

Previous studies haven’t adequately controlled for or examined something else in addition to the environment that divorcing parents transmit to their children: namely genes!

The study’s findings suggest new areas might be useful for therapists to target. For example, addressing underlying, personality-driven cognitive distortions through cognitive-behavioral approaches may be a better strategy.

The article from Virginia Commonwealth University is here.


Sweden’s High Divorce Rate

In a recent study of women in Sweden, 28 percent of people born to Swedish parents had divorced. But the divorce rate was much higher for immigrant women, where almost 60 percent had divorced in Sweden. The country may explain a lot about international divorce rates.

Stockholm Syndrome?

The divorce rates for immigrants in Sweden seem especially high when compared to the divorce rates in their home countries.

That the divorce rates are higher in Sweden may not be solely due to women’s higher workforce participation. In many patriarchal countries, like Iran, divorce is less accepted, and it can be legally more difficult to get divorced than in Sweden.

Rules about children can differ too. I’ve written on international divorces, especially as they relate to child custody issues and The Hague Convention on abduction.

International Divorces

I’ve written frequently about international divorce issues, especially international child abductions. The Hague Abduction Convention is a multilateral treaty developed by The Hague Conference on Private International Law to provide for the prompt return of a child internationally abducted by a parent from one-member country to another.

Sweden is a signatory to The Hague Convention, but many of the countries where Sweden’s immigrant population are from, are not signatories at all. This can be a problem if child abduction is an issue.

There are some essential elements to every Hague Convention case:

  • The country must be a Hague signatory country;
  • The child must be under the age of 16 years of age;
  • The wrongful removal must be a violation of the left behind parent’s “rights of custody;”
  • The left behind parent’s rights of custody “were actually being exercised or would have been exercised but for the removal.”

So, if a child under the age of sixteen has been wrongfully removed, the child must be promptly returned to the child’s country of habitual residence, unless certain exceptions apply.

The catch, of course, is that a child must be taken from a signatory country to another signatory country, and that is where understanding The Hague Convention comes in.

There is also a problem with hiding assets overseas. The problem of discovery of hidden wealth is even bigger in an international divorce because multiple countries, and multiple rules on discovery, can be involved.

Welcome to Sweden

Often, divorce is seen as a negative development. When families split up, children can find it difficult to adjust emotionally. But, not always for immigrant women in Sweden.

In a country like Sweden, the dynamics between the men and women change. Men who dominated their families because they had the economic power in their home countries lose that power when they integrate into a more gender-equal country like Sweden.

Women from patriarchal societies gain power when they integrate into a country like Sweden. There are more economic opportunities for them, and resources for women’s rights are more developed.

The welfare system is also extensive in Sweden, meaning that even women of low socioeconomic status can leave their husbands with no jobs and receive low-cost health care, education, job training, and a stipend from the government.

For women in Sweden who have migrated from more patriarchal countries, divorce may be an opportunity.

The Atlantic article is here.


Divorce Benefits?

Divorce comes at a high price. You walk away from your marriage with significantly fewer assets and retirement savings by virtue of the property division. You can lose more if you have to pay support or alimony. Then there’s the emotional toll. But there may be a silver lining, some divorce benefits you were not aware of.

As U.S. News and World Report shows, divorce may have a few silver linings, some unknown or hidden benefits to take some of the sting away from an otherwise painful process.

The benefits of a divorce are not enough to make you run out and get one, but there are a few financial benefits that could make a very bad situation seem a little better if you look hard enough.

Financial Control

The end of a marriage can mean the end of fights over money. That is a divorce benefit. There is no more struggle over which categories get priority in the budget; no more evenings spent fighting or pleading with a spouse to rein in spending.

On the other side of divorce is some freedom.

Some people have also found that after a divorce from a spendthrift, you can accumulate big savings, thanks to budgeting on your priorities.

Early Access to Retirement Money

Another benefit is that a divorce is one of the few times you can pull money out of your retirement account early and not pay an early withdrawal penalty.

When the court enters a QDRO (a Qualified Domestic Relations Order) as part of a divorce, it allows for an early withdrawal from the account.

This money may be exempt from the typical penalty assessed, although income tax still needs to be paid if the money is not rolled into an IRA.

Cashing out part of your retirement account can be very risky, but it gives you some benefit to your money you may not otherwise have.

Potentially Better Investment returns

Divorce could mean better investment returns. After a divorce, you have the opportunity to take over your own retirement planning and investments. Being the captain of your own financial ship could be a financial benefit in the long run. I have also written about there being some tax issues in divorce which may benefit you.

More College Financial Aid

Divorce can be difficult for children, but there is one place where they may have a benefit: college financial aid.

The Free Application for Federal Student Aid only requires financial information from the custodial parent rather than both parents.

If you are divorced the FAFSA will consider only the custodial parent’s income.

For financial aid purposes, the custodial parent is the one your student lived with the most in the last 12 months, or the parent who provided the student with the most financial support.

The custodial parent for FAFSA purposes may be different from the parent who has legal custody.

Sometimes you can structure your marital settlement agreement so that the lower-earning parent becomes the custodial parent, giving your student the best chance of qualifying for the most financial aid.


Getting a divorce isn’t something to rush into, but if you find yourself in the midst of a crumbling marriage, don’t despair. You may still come out ahead thanks to these little-known financial benefits of divorce.

The U.S. News and World Report article is here.


Outlaw Divorce?

Swaziland’s King Mswati III has told leaders that it is against culture to divorce, and instructed them to tell citizens that there will be no pulling out from marriage, once it takes place. So much for no fault divorce in Swaziland.

Swaziland Divorce

King Mswati III of Swaziland is Africa’s last absolute monarch. The 49-year old king who calls himself “the lion,” owns most of the country’s land and rules by decree, appointing all of the government’s top positions. Now he may make Swaziland the first country in Africa to outlaw divorce.

“In our culture, once you marry someone, there is no turning back,” he said  speaking at an Easter ceremony earlier this month, according to a local paper, Times of Swaziland. There is no word for “divorce” in Siswati, the official language of Swaziland, the king added.

Swaziland officials have been quick to clarify that divorce has not been officially banned. The king’s comments, which are not a decree until he officially tables them, run counter to a recently submitted marriage bill by Swaziland’s attorney general that allows for divorce on certain grounds.

Divorce is not permitted under current legislation, but a process called Kumbuyisela ekhaya, which refers to reuniting a married woman with her family, is allowed.

King Mswati III has at least 15 wives, and is entitled to a new one every year, chosen at an eight day festival known as the reed dance. Polygamy is common in Swaziland where women are considered the property of their husbands. Domestic abuse and sexual violence are prevalent. Leaders often criticize ideas of equal rights for women as foreign values that should be subordinated to Swazi culture, according to Human Rights Watch.

Divorce Around the World

The Philippines is the only country in the world where divorce is illegal for most of the country’s population. (Muslims are allowed to divorce and the country’s mostly Catholic population can annul marriages.) In Vatican City, there are also no procedures for divorce.

Florida, of course is a “no fault” divorce state. I mentioned in an a earlier post that Florida abolished fault as grounds for filing a divorce. The only reason you need to file for divorce in Florida is to prove your marriage is “irretrievably broken.” But many people want to return to the old “fault” system to stem the numbers of divorces.

The King’s directive comes as the kingdom’s attorney-general is drafting a marriage Bill which will make it easier to divorce, particularly for women. The king’s wish is likely to become law, if he formally tables it. This would mostly affect women, whom it says are already oppressed.

“It is not necessarily a decree. However, given the vast powers that the king has it may sound as it is. Remember that he’s also a chairperson of the judiciary commission. I’m just imagining women going there to demand a divorce given that the judge himself will be worried about his job after they had to contradict their boss; in this case the king,” said Lucky Lukhele from the Swaziland Solidarity Network.

The article is available here.


A Positive Side to Divorce

On behalf of Ronald H. Kauffman, P.A. posted in Divorce on Thursday, January 2, 2014.

Everyone has heard of the problems with divorce: the impact on children, the serious effect on men and women’s health, and other issues. And, the number of divorced and separated women in the US is on the rise. A recent study has found that a record 15% of American women are divorced or separated. Is there any good news? The answer is . . . yeah.

According to a recent study, experiencing adversity through things like divorce and death may actually enhance your appreciation for other life pleasures. psychology professors published their findings in the Journal of Social, Psychological & Personality Science.

They asked about 15,000 adults to complete a vignette-based measure of savoring and gave the participants a checklist of adverse events (things like, divorce, death of a loved one and other adverse events) and asked them to indicate whether they had experienced any of these events and, if so, to specify whether they felt they had emotionally dealt with the negative event or were still struggling with it.

Although people who were currently struggling with adversity reported a diminished proclivity for savoring positive events, individuals who had dealt with more adversity in the past reported an elevated capacity for savoring.

Their conclusion is not so surprising. If you have dealt with more adversity in your past, as many in the study had, you would have reported an elevated capacity for savoring positive events. Conversely, if you were still going through a divorce for example, you would have reported, like many participants, a diminished proclivity for savoring positive events.

The abstract of the study can be read here.