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Factors that Increase the Risk of Divorce

Divorce in America has become more prevalent over the years. While most people assume the divorce rate is 50%, other observers put it closer to 40%, though most feel that the rate will increase to at least 50% in the near future. This is still below the overall leader, Sweden, where the rate is reported at an astounding 64%!

The problem with placing a percentage on divorce rates is how it is determined. Some experts feel that the 40% rate is misleading since not all states report divorce statistics. Others use a refined approach, or the number of divorces per 1,000 married women. Using this approach used by the National Center for Family and Marriage Research, the national rate is much lower, or 19.4%.

Is there an age group where the risk of divorce is highest? Most people would think that it is for couples under the age of 20, but statistics show that men and women who marry between the ages of 20 to 24 have the highest rate and that it decreases the older we get.

As of 2012, Florida had the 8th largest divorce rate in the US, or 57%, well above the national average. Statistics show that divorce levels are highest in states where couples marry younger or who do not have college or advanced degrees. People in the South tend to marry younger so divorce rates are higher. Massachusetts has a high percentage of persons with college and advanced degrees, making their divorce rate much lower than the national average.

There are many factors that cause divorce but there are some that are more likely to result in dissolution than others. The following are three common risk factors.

Financial Disagreements

Many couples argue over finances and this is a toxic element that divides families and creates substantial stress. A Utah State University study concluded that couples arguing once per week over finances are more than 30% more likely to get divorced than those who argue only a few times per month. Should you both argue several times per week, or daily, the risk increases 125% to 160%.

Disagreements center over how to spend money or for what purposes. Some overextend themselves, spending too much on unnecessary items or do not realize the high cost of living in certain areas. Without a budget and sticking to it, debt can quickly accumulate and lead to constant bickering and occasional violent outbursts.

Subsequent Marriages

Did you learn from your first, or second marriage, about what you were looking for in a partner so that you do not repeat your mistake? Apparently, this has little to do with the high rate of divorce among people who remarry.

If you have children from a previous marriage, you are complicating matters, especially if you are paying child support that may introduce financial stress into the new relationship. You also have to maintain contact and some kind of relationship with your former spouse who may resent your new spouse or vice versa. Older children are continuing to live with their parents, or move back in when jobs fail or rents are too high, so privacy is minimal. On the other hand, children may be responsible for stabilizing a marriage. If you remarry after the children are gone, that stabilizing influence is absent.

Previously married men tend to remarry quicker than women as they find that living alone is stressful and uncomfortable. Consequently, they may jump into a relationship with someone who is empathetic to their situation without recognizing that this person is not particularly stable or has traits and idiosyncrasies much like their former spouse that they found annoying or distasteful.

Cohabitation Before Marriage

Cohabitation is common. It reduces living costs and is convenient for couples who love each other or share a bond or deep affection. The problem is that when these couples decide to marry, they have a tendency to divorce at a very high rate.

Some social scientists feel that cohabiting tends to instill a sense that marriage is not a permanent situation and can be easily dissolved simply by moving out. No bond is created and disagreements that characterize any marriage are not worked out by counseling or therapy but by ending it all together. Others who are not committed to each other may feel that getting married is an easy transition to what they are already doing and that they can easily dissolve it.

Marriage is still a popular institution, of course, and people will continue to marry. Before you do so, however, you may want to look at whether these and other risk factors are present in your relationship, and see what you can do to minimize the risk of entering into a marriage that could result in divorce.