Tag: divorce statistics

Divorce Strategy During the Pandemic

Divorce strategy during the pandemic is on people’s minds because, even in the best of times, marriage and relationships are hard work. As the Wall Street Journal reports, the pandemic has produced a pressure cooker inside homes, straining even strong partnerships and, experts say, likely breaking others.

divorce covid strategy

The Virus Among Us

Families are cooped up, with spouses trying to work while also taking care of their kids. Job losses, caring for at-risk elderly parents, arguments over what’s safe, and disagreements over school reopening are all taking a toll.

Susan Myres, president of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers (AAML), which represents 1,600 members nationwide, says she expects new divorce filings to increase somewhere between 10% and 25% in the second half of this year.

Florida, unlike many state courts have been processing divorce and custody filings and are back to a manageable case flow. Many AAML member attorneys are reporting that we have received more queries than normal since the pandemic in March.

More than one-quarter of adults said they know a couple likely to break up, separate or divorce when the coronavirus pandemic ends, according to an Ipsos poll of 1,005 people conducted at the end of July.

In Charlotte, N.C., one attorney has consulted with 263 new clients on divorce issues from April to July compared with 217 clients in that same period a year ago, says Nicole Sodoma, founder and managing principal of the firm.

Summertime is usually when separating parents make the transition to two households, giving themselves time to acclimate before the school year begins. But courts have either been closed or backed up, she says, and many clients have felt stuck. “It’s added stress to an already stressful situation,” she says.

Florida Divorce

The official term for divorce in Florida is “dissolution of marriage”, and you don’t need fault as a ground for divorce. Florida abolished fault as a ground for divorce.

I’ve written about divorce and the Coronavirus before. In order to divorce in Florida, you need to file a petition for dissolution of marriage in the family court. No grounds are necessary, such as “COVID-19” or “my house is a pressure cooker.”

The no-fault concept in Florida means you no longer have to prove a reason for the divorce. Instead, you just need to state under oath that your marriage is “irretrievably broken.”

Before the no-fault divorce era, people who wanted to get divorce either had to reach agreement in advance with the other spouse that the marriage was over, or throw mud at each other and prove wrongdoing like adultery or abuse.

No-fault laws were the result of trying to change the way divorces played out in court. No fault laws have reduced the number of feuding couples who felt the need to resort to distorted facts, lies, and the need to focus the trial on who did what to whom.

The Pressure Cooker

In some cases, tensions created from the effects of the shutdown, quarantine, and pandemic, can mount into violence. The National Domestic Violence Hotline says total contacts—calls, texts and online chats—increased 9% to more than 62,000 in the period from mid-March to mid-May, compared with the same period a year earlier.

Spouses who experienced greater external stress, from work stressors to financial problems, had lower relationship satisfaction than couples with fewer external stressors.

Even in the most communicative partnerships, there is more stress. “We have a strong marriage,” says Courtney Westling, a public-schools official in Portland, Ore. “But this has not been easy.” She and her husband of seven years, Mike, have spent recent months negotiating new work spaces in their home as well as child care for their sons, ages 3 and 5.

Strategy for Stress

The Covid pandemic has put strain on households and is testing marriages and relationships. Here are a few strategies.

Keep in mind this is a unique situation. When your spouse does something that upsets you, it’s easy to veer into blaming it on some character flaw. That is not a good sign. Couples that tend to see “situational attribution,” do better.

“If I have the mentality that this is because of the situation and not my partner, that should be beneficial.”

Think twice about big relationship decisions. Clients under marital duress should take a step back and pause. Recognize that everyone is under added strain, and that a partner’s on-the-surface behavior may really be about something deeper.

Maybe what you don’t recognize is that your spouse is actually anxious about the uncertainty, maybe his job or some underlying health issue, and it causes them to act out. But that doesn’t mean it’s the end of a marriage. That’s particularly true in a relationship that had previously been solid, she says.

“Recognize that we are not living in ordinary times.”

Don’t forget to play! The world feels heavy right now, and so it is more important than ever to find joy. Take advantage of the added time with your partner to find moments to laugh and have fun. And if those moments don’t come to you, make them. You need to create moments of play.

“Go out for a run, listen to a podcast together, spend time in nature. Play is not only how children learn, but it is also how we refresh ourselves.”

Creating lighthearted moments is also a useful tool in reminding ourselves what attracted us in the first place to our partners. Remember that this is the same person, but this is just a short period in time.

The Wall Street Journal article is here.

 

Young Folks and Divorce

It’s June, one of the most popular months of the year to marry. So, let’s talk about young folks and divorce. In 2017, around one million couples in the U.S. called it quits. That may seem like a lot of divorced couples, however the rate of divorce — just like the rate of marriage — is down. But is it really?

divorce and marriage

We don’t care about the young folks

What is happening today is that younger married couples are less likely to split up than they once were, driving the trend. But, at the same time, the rate of divorce for older generations has increased in a phenomenon known as “gray” divorce.

Divorces hit a historical high point in 1979, when 22.6 marriages out of every 1,000 broke up, according to researchers at the National Center for Family and Marriage Research at Bowling Green University.

By 2017, the rate had dropped to 16.1 divorces for every 1,000 marriages. That’s a decrease of 29% from the high point and the lowest the divorce rate has been in 40 years.

One cause, researchers believe, is that people are delaying marriage.

“There’s a fear of divorce or a specter of divorce looming large in people’s mind. They don’t want to make a mistake. They’re waiting longer to get married to divorce-proof their marriage.”

In 1963, the average woman married at around age 20, but by 2017, the median age at marriage was 27 for women and 29 for men. Using data collected by the National Center for Health Statistics and the American Community Survey, Bowling Green researchers calculated annual rates of divorce for girls and women ages 15 and older by dividing the number divorced in the past 12 months by the number divorced in the past 12 months plus the number currently married and then multiplying the result by 1,000.

We don’t care about the old folks

When couples choose to divorce in their 30s or 40s, they still have time to recover financially, because adults at that age have several years, if not decades, left in their careers.

But when divorce occurs when a couple is in their 50s or later, careers may either be coming to a close or are completed, and spouses are often living on fixed incomes provided through Social Security or retirement benefits.

I’ve written about this subject before. Here are some things to consider:

Valuing the Marital Estate – By the time a couple enters the golden years, they may have gold to divide, including businesses, retirement funds, and vacation homes. Valuing these assets can be difficult. The value of a business may not be apparent from balance sheets, and the sale or transfer of assets may have tax consequences. As a result, a financial advisor may be an important component in the divorce.

Medical Care – Health insurance is often tied to the employment of one spouse. With aging comes diminishing health, and declining cognitive ability. Courts may need to intervene if one party has dwindling capacity to handle their own affairs.

Long-Term Arrangements – Legal arrangements, such as wills and trusts, need to be reviewed to make sure they reflect post-divorce wishes. The same is true for long-term care, such as medical directives, living wills and trusts.

Retirement Plans – After 20 years of marriage, retirement plans can be substantial . . . and complex. Retirement plans vary in kind, and they all have different restrictions, tax consequences, distribution and vesting rules.

Lifestyle adjustment – Younger couples have time to re-accumulate wealth after divorce, but in Gray Divorces, the spouses have less time to re-establish themselves financially. One or both may be close to or in retirement, and face living on half of what they earmarked for retirement.

Talking only me and you

Researchers also examined the trends by age group and found that the drop in divorces has been driven by younger people. The greatest decrease they observed was among 15- to 24-year-olds, whose divorce rate dropped by 43%. The rate for 25- to 34-year-olds also dropped substantially, a decrease of about 30%.

After that, the rates of “gray divorce” more than doubled. For 55- to 64-year-olds, it climbed from 5 divorces per 1,000 marriages to 15 divorces per 1,000 marriages, and for those 65 and older, it rose from 1.8 to 5.

For comparison, the researchers also calculated marriage rates. In 1970, nearly a decade before the divorce peak, there were 76.5 marriages for every 1,000 unmarried women. In 2017, the rate had dropped to 32.2 marriages for every 1,000 unmarried women, a decrease of 58%.

 “The script was high school, maybe the military or college, and then you settle down,” Dr. Jordan said. “Now, it’s high school, maybe the military or college, maybe some period of self-discovery.”

That doesn’t mean fewer people have been pairing up or even delaying entering into romantic partnerships. But instead of marrying right after high school or college, more couples have simply moved in together, usurping marriage as the most common relationship experience in young adulthood.

Forty percent of women who wedded for the first time between 1980 and 1984 lived with their husband before they married, according to the Bowling Green researchers. From 2010 through 2014, 70% did.

That suggests for more couples, “I do” has morphed into, “I might.” But when they finally pledge “till death do us part,” they mean it.

The Wall Street Journal article is here.

 

Divorce Infidelity and Gender

With one in five British adults admitting to cheating on their partners, monogamy is clearly not as straightforward a concept for some as it is for others. Could the impact of an affair differ based on your sex? Divorce, infidelity and gender is the topic of a recent report from England.

divorce infidelity and gender

Seven Year Itch

As the Independent reports, divorce, infidelity and gender studies have revealed that men may have a greater tendency than women to go ahead with or contemplate committing adultery in heterosexual relationships.

In fact, recent research has shown that they can be less forgiving than their female counterparts when considering divorce on account of infidelity. New research conducted into behavioral patterns that can lead to divorce, coming to illuminating conclusions about the impact of adulterous conduct on marital bliss.

According to the findings, almost a third of divorces occur when men and women have forgiven past wrongdoings but have finally “run out of patience.”

This bad behavior refers to a number of issues, including adultery, financial problems and substance abuse. Interestingly, some people are finding that women are more likely than men to try to salvage a broken marriage, despite their partner’s unfaithfulness.

Florida Divorce and Infidelity

I’ve written about divorce infidelity and gender issues before, but not specifically how men and women differ in the impact of an affair. One reason is that in Florida, we have no-fault divorce laws. No-fault divorce laws are the result of trying to change the way divorces played out in court.

In Florida no fault laws have reduced the number of feuding couples who felt the need to resort to distorted facts, lies, and the need to focus the trial on who did what to whom.

Florida abolished fault as grounds for filing a divorce. Gone are the days when you had to prove adultery, desertion or unreasonable behavior as in England.

The only ground you need to file for divorce in Florida is to prove your marriage is “irretrievably broken.” Additionally, the mental incapacity of one of the parties, where the party was adjudged incapacitated for the prior three year, is another avenue.

Indecent Proposal

Adultery can be the cause of a divorce, but can divorce, infidelity and gender impact the outcome? Since Florida became a no-fault state, the fact that, “she (or he) is sleeping with a co-worker” doesn’t hold much traction in court any more.

When is adultery relevant in divorce in Florida? Although we are a no-fault state, there is still a statutory basis for infidelity to be an issue in your divorce proceedings, but not as a reason for divorce.

Some people think no fault divorce is one of the main reasons for a high divorce rate. Despite the recent legislative moves in the UK, there is a movement here to return to the old “fault” system to promote families.

Unfaithful

According to the Independent, researchers were surprised time and again by the ability of some men and women to almost turn a blind eye to their partner’s misbehavior.

However, the cases show how many people in such a situation find their patience ultimately exhausted, usually when the misconduct becomes too difficult for themselves and others to ignore.

“In some cases, that means being told by friends and relatives about extra-marital affairs which they were already aware of or discovering the true extent of a spouse’s financial difficulties and learning that they impact on a business as well as at home.”

On the other hand, the odds of men tolerating their wives’ dishonesty are far lower than the other way around.

Fatal Attraction

In Britain last year, the Office of National Statistics stated that the number of women petitioning for divorce against their husbands as a consequence of their spouses’ misconduct had decreased by 43 percent since 1996.

Meanwhile the number of men divorcing their wives for the same reason had increased by approximately by a third.

Some speculate that the main reason why men and women are willing to give their marriages another go is due to the negative effect separating will have on their children.

Divorce, infidelity and gender studies are surprising people in how different genders react. Arguably the principal factor in staying together is a desire to remain married for the sake of their children. Once those children have left home, a number of unhappy parents decide to take advantage of what they regard as an opportunity to leave a troubled marriage.

The Independent article is here.

 

Set Up a Divorce Plan

USA Today reports that few people marry and then plan for divorce or death. But based on recent statistics, that is precisely what we should do. What are some things you should do to set up a divorce plan?

Set Up a Divorce Plan

The Statistics

Consider this: The average age of a widow in the U.S. is 59 and women divorce for the first time at age 30 (on average). Add to those statistics the fact that men tend to die five years before their spouses (76 for men versus 81 for women).

Most people have heard the statistic that “50 percent of marriages end in divorce.” That statistic seems to have originated in the 1980’s. Today, it is thought approximately 42-45% of marriages in the United States end in divorce (this does not include legal separations).

But when you break that down by number of marriages, you get some interesting additional facts. For example, while 42-45% percent of first marriages end in divorce, for second marriages around 60% end in divorce. Third marriages? Roughly 73% of third marriages end in divorce.

Planning

I’ve written about things to consider when planning for divorce before. The divorce statistics mentioned above really call for you to set up a divorce plan. A divorce plan should reflect goals, and the USA Today article has some excellent things to consider.

Get a planner

While most people run to a marriage counselor, what you may really need is a financial planner. Research shows that when the “money spouse” dies (typically the male partner), the “non-money spouse” ends up firing her investment manager over two-thirds of the time.

Review your Documents

Review your trust agreement every few years; if you don’t have a trust, get one. You may quickly realize your trust is outdated and go through a costly revision at just the time when you don’t need the added headache and hassle.

Keep 401(k) and IRA beneficiary forms. The bank may lose your beneficiary forms through the passage of time and through mergers and acquisitions.

Use a virtual binder

Consolidate your financial life on an aggregator.  Think of an aggregator as a virtual binder with a vault. All of your assets and liabilities feed into this software, and you have a real-time picture of your net worth and income from all sources.

Get a Postnup

These days, the postnup has become more important than ever. People are marrying when they are older, and better informed about the implications of marriage. Many people have married before. Because the divorce statistics for second and third marriages shown above are so high, more people are looking to sign postnuptial agreements.

The USA Today article on how to set up a divorce plan is here.