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Research shows the divorce rate is much higher than we thought

By far, one of the most well-known and oft-repeated maxims concerning marriage and divorce is that "50 percent of all marriages end in a split." While many people view this as gospel, recent studies have suggested that this is not necessarily the case, as the divorce rate has actually been steadily declining since reaching its peak in the 1980s.

Interestingly enough, a recently released study by researchers with the Minnesota Population Center suggests that both of these views are perhaps far off the mark, and that the rate of divorce here in the U.S. is actually much higher than people might otherwise have been lead to believe.

After examining data gathered from the American Community Survey, the researchers found that older Americans are now divorcing far more often. For instance, they found the divorce rate among people age 60 to 65 has increased threefold since 1990, while the divorce rate among people age 65 and older has increased fivefold over the same timeframe. 

The researchers attribute this phenomenon to the fact that many of these older Americans -- or "Baby Boomers" -- are in second, third or even fourth marriages, and that these arrangements are inherently less secure than first marriages.

The reasons behind these multiple marriages among older Americans, they argue, can be found in the idea that as societal expectations shifted and more alternatives arose in the 70s for both men and women, many married couples no longer felt as attached to their first marriages and moved on, thus paving the way for their future divorces.

The researchers also noted that while the divorce rate among younger Americans is now considerably low, this isn't necessarily a reflection of happier or more stable marriages. Rather, they found that many more young people are simply choosing to live together rather than marry and that while cohabitation doesn't act as a predictor of divorce, it doesn't always translate into marriages either.

Indeed, while some young couples do use cohabitation as a possible dry run for marriage, others simply use it as a way to minimize expenses and share a finite amount of time with a significant other who may or may not be the long-term solution.

While studies like these are always very informative and entertaining, they ultimately have very little consequence to those actually seeking to divorce their partner. In these times, the most important thing to these people is knowing that they have both family and friends, as well as a dedicated team of legal and financial professionals by their side at all times.

Source: Time, "Divorce watch: Couples of all ages are less stable than ever," Belinda Luscombe, March 31, 2014

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