Sunday, December 7, 2008

Money Not The Cause of Most Divorces?

Here is an article that might be of interest to both lawyers and non-lawyers - Money isn't the culprit in most divorces. Something to challenge the conventional wisdom.

Jan Andersen, associate professor at CSU Sacramento, had heard the conventional wisdom, too. Far from being a skeptic, he wanted to prove the link when he wrote his doctoral dissertation on the subject at Utah State University. Andersen had long taught courses in personal finance and, as the child of divorce himself, liked the idea that improving people's money skills could help their marriages.

Unfortunately, he found research in this area has been thin, to say the least. The only survey Andersen could find that showed a strong link between money and divorce was one culled from data collected in 1948. When this survey of postwar divorced women was asked what ended their marriages, the leading response was "nonsupport" -- meaning their husbands hadn't provided enough money for the basic necessities of life.

The more recent research Andersen reviewed relegated money to a lesser role in divorce. Rarely was it ranked higher than fourth or fifth, with other causes -- incompatibility, lack of emotional support, abuse and sexual problems -- typically ranking higher.
From what I have learned over the past twenty-one years of practicing law is that money is there as part of the mix and may aggravate of other problem. That seems to jibe with actual research.

Money causes friction, of course. In a study of married couples from 1980 to 1992, 70% reported some kind of money problems. When Andersen looked deeper at that database, however, he found that those problems didn't necessarily lead to divorce.


It's important to note here that Andersen wasn't looking at popular opinion polls -- what people think causes divorce or even what people are willing to tell a telephone survey caused their own divorce. He was looking at sociological research that had some intellectual rigor and scientific controls. He wanted to determine whether money could be singled out as a predictor of divorce, rather than something most married couples struggle with.

If you are looking for why there are divorces, this article might be a good place to start. I would also suggest Marriage Advice from a Divorce Lawyer? from the Divorce and Family Law in Tarrant County, Texas Blog. I especially want to emphasize this part of that article:

In addition to Michael's list, I would add one more broad factor in the breakup of marriages -- mental or emotional problems by one or both of the parties. For example,
* Sometimes depression (untreated) can destroy a marriage.
* Other times, one of the parties is a very controlling person who ends up smothering the spouse who leaves the marriage to gain his/her freedom and escape an abusive environment.
* In some cases, there is a true personality disorder or mental illness. Untreated, that can also destroy a marriage.
My advice: get professional help and follow through with treatment and medication. That can be very effective, but it's often pretty hard to get our spouse to acknowledge the need for psychiatric help, much less to comply with the treatment plan."

When I wrote about money aggravating a bad situation, I has depression in mind. Money problems on top of depression is a nasty thing.

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