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Separation and Divorce: Cultural and Socioeconomic Trends

August 26, 2012 by  
Filed under Divorce, Family Law

Different Trends with Separation and Divorce

A research study at Ohio State University  released last week revealed interesting research regarding separation and divorce rates.

The study followed over 7,000 people from 1979 until 2008.  The participants were interviewed every other year from 1994 to 2008.  Some interesting findings:

  • 49% percent of participants left their first marriage during the study
  • 60% of those individuals had gone through a marital separation
  • 80% of these separations ended in divorce

It’s important to clarify that “separated” in the study simply meant living apart.  This is different from a “legal separation” which requires a court hearing.  A legal separation involves a division of property and spouses living separately, however does not legally divorce the parties.

In addition to looking at general divorce patterns, the study also examined differences between those who legally divorced and those who just separated.  Historically, a legal separation has been a viable option for those with religious beliefs which disapprove of divorce.  However, this study did not show a difference in separation rates among those in different religious groups.

The Demographics that Relate to Separation vs. Divorce

In contrast, almost 75% of those who separated and stayed that way or who separated then reunited were black or Hispanic.  Those who separated also tended to have more children than those who divorced.  In addition, “In every measure we had, including family background, income and education, those who remain separated are more disadvantaged than those who are divorcing,” Zhenchao Qian, one of the researchers, said.  Based on this Professor Dmitry Tumin, study co-author, concluded, “Long-term separation seems to be the low-cost, do-it-yourself alternative to divorce for many disadvantaged couples.

Lastly, divorce proceedings include child custody, child support, spousal maintenance (alimony), and property division rulings.  Without these, individuals may have difficulty enforcing their legal rights or get the benefits they need from their spouse/ex-spouse.  Unfortunately, those without sufficient means, knowledge, or confidence in the legal system may not do what’s needed to protect these rights.  Legal help services are available in Minnesota for those who need it.

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