When a couple gets married, it’s generally a happy time in their lives and they don’t think about divorce. Despite this hope, sometimes divorce is necessary for the health and sanity of both parties. The old axiom of about 50% of marriages ending in divorce has been found to be inaccurate, but a good number of marriages still don’t last forever. If you have children, child custody and child support are important parts of the case that will keep you and your former spouse in family court until the children are adult that aren’t eligible for child support, which in Utah can be ordered until they’re 21 years old. Divorce is very common in the United States with almost half of all marriages ending in divorce or permanent separation. Commitment has been shown to be a clear factor in why some couples stay together. There are times when divorce is necessary, but those in other circumstances often later indicate they wish they would have tried harder before divorcing. There are many factors that place a couple at higher risk for divorce. It may be helpful to know some of the statistics and findings outlined below. Researchers estimate that 40%-50% of all first marriages will end in divorce or permanent separation and about 60% – 65% of second marriages will end in divorce. Although divorce has always been a part of American society, divorce has become more common in the last 50 years. Changes in the laws have made divorce much easier. The highest divorce rates ever recorded were in the 1970s and early 1980s. Divorce rates have decreased since that time, but still remain high. Over the years, researchers have determined certain factors that put people at higher risk for divorce: marrying young, limited education and income, living together before a commitment to marriage, premarital pregnancy, no religious affiliation, coming from a divorced family, and feelings of insecurity.
• Young age: Marriage at a very young age increases the likelihood of divorce, especially in the early years of marriage.
• Less education: Research shows that those with at least some college education (vs. high school or not finishing high school) have a lower chance of divorce.
• Less income: Having a modest income can help couples avoid stress that may lead to divorce.
• Premarital cohabitation: Couples who live together before marriage appear to have a higher chance of divorce if they marry, but the risk is mostly true for those who have cohabited with multiple partners. A common belief is that living together before marriage provides an opportunity to get to know each other better, but research has found those that live together before marriage have already developed some leniency towards divorce. This leniency towards divorce is what leads the couple to become high risk. However, there are some caveats to these findings. Research suggests couples who get engaged and then move in together are no longer at a high risk for future divorce. Their commitment towards marriage reduces the risk of a future divorce.
• Premarital childbearing and pregnancy: Childbearing and pregnancy prior to marriage significantly increase the likelihood of future divorce.
• No religious affiliation: Researchers have estimated those with a religious affiliation compared to those who belong to no religious group are less likely to divorce.
• Parents’ divorce: Unfortunately, experiencing the divorce of your parents doubles your risk for divorce. And if your spouse also experienced their parents’ divorce than your risk for divorce triples. This does not mean you are predisposed to having your marriage end in divorce, only that you may need to be more aware of your marriage trends and work harder for a successful marriage.
Research has found the most common reasons people give for their divorce are lack of commitment, too much arguing, infidelity, marrying too young, unrealistic expectations, lack of equality in the relationship, lack of preparation for marriage, and abuse. Many of the common reasons people give for their divorce can fall under the umbrella of no longer being in love. Research suggests the nature of love changes over time. If you feel as if you have fallen out of love, marriage counseling may help offer a new perspective that will help you rediscover that love. Commitment is “having a long-term view of the marriage that helps us not get overwhelmed by the problems and challenges we experience day to day.” Having a personal dedication to your marriage involves a real desire to be together with one’s spouse in the future and having an identity as a couple. When there is a high level of commitment in a relationship, we feel safer and are willing to give more. Developing this level of commitment can take time as you learn to change your mindset. When your level of commitment seems to be fading it can be helpful to remember the good times in your relationship. Some couples are faced with very difficult situations, such as abuse, infidelity, or addictions. Each of these situations deserves special consideration:
When there is a pattern of abuse in a marriage or in a family, not surprisingly there is evidence that ending the marriage is usually best for all involved. While some spouses are able to end and overcome abuse, abused spouses and children are usually better off when the marriage is ended. Sometimes, ending a marriage with an abusive spouse can be dangerous, however. It is probably a good idea to work with a domestic violence shelter in your community to help you end the relationship safely. If you suspect that you (or someone you know) is in an abusive relationship, you may want to look at this webpage on Signs of Abuse.
Most Americans say they would end their marriage if their spouse cheated on them. However, many couples (50-60%) who have dealt with infidelity in their marriages find the will and strength to stay together. Also, consider getting help from a well-trained marriage counselor and/or a dedicated religious leader who will help you heal, decide what to do, and repair the marriage, if you decide to stay together. Recovering from infidelity can be very difficult to do without some help.
Addiction can come in many forms, such as alcohol, drugs, gambling, or pornography. If you are faced with addictions or a spouse is suffering from addictions, you can find help from organizations such as Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous. In some cases, the addict can recover and the marriage can be repaired. In other cases, it is best for the spouse and children to separate from the addict to see if progress can be made. Each person has unique circumstances and must decide what is right for her or him. Again, consider turning to a trained professional and/or a religious leader to help you know how best to handle your situation.
The crux of any relationship is communication. Sure, you typically hear reasons for divorce like money disagreements, commitment issues and the other things in this list. If you can’t talk your out in a way both partners understand, all that’s left is an unproductive argument and growing resentment. “Your behavior might not match what your partner needs.” That’s why divorce often waits at the bottom of that slippery slope.
There’s No Intimacy
Along with the “I love you, but I’m not in love with you” realization, a dormant bedroom life is also a factor for divorce. There’s nothing shameful about a dry spell, but a lack of physical affection sexy times and long bear hugs included can cause serious disconnect. “People start telling themselves like, ‘Okay, well the lack of intimacy, I can handle that.’ But ultimately it just becomes too much for them” Levine says.
It’s Not A Partnership Anymore
Though they might have full and exciting personal lives, they’ll feel like they’re no longer working as a unit with their spouse, whether that’s because their priorities for the future of shifted or because they realize they simply don’t have much in common with their partners anymore. That disconnect and loneliness can be reason enough for divorce.
You Weren’t Ready For Marriage
“If you marry too early, or haven’t been able to identify who you are and what’s important to you, then you can’t choose the best partner.” While you want to be in it for the long haul, maybe you rushed down the aisle or weren’t fully in tune with yourself when you said “I do”. That’s when a crop of clashes think: differing values, emotional baggage from past flings, and a lack of real trust pop up and put you on the road to divorce.
Abuse, from physical harm to emotional manipulation like a partner withdrawing affection as punishment, leaves people feeling powerless. Separating from the abusive partner in a safe and supported way is the best way to regain your safety. Abuse differs from other causes for divorce in that “it’s not a relationship issue, but something that is within your partner.”
Without trust, what’s left? An affair can feel like the ultimate betrayal and sign that healthy communication skidded to a halt a long time ago.
Lack Of Emotional Support
“The breakdown in communication often leads to people feeling desperate, so they criticize or get angry or make demands.” “Nobody wants to be around that or that energy.” Once empathy and compassion for one another take a nosedive, “it’s very hard to come back together.”
They’re Just Done
“People in long-term marriages are generally not just walking out on their marriages for the heck of it.” “These are people who tried to save their marriages for years and years, and it just didn’t work out.” You’ve put in so much work to give the relationship new life, but your partner hasn’t shown the same effort. Once it becomes clear that things aren’t going to change, people pull the plug. Every little thing builds up contempt or resentment, until one morning you wake up like: “Here are your divorce papers, my guy.”
How (and when) you spend it, save it, or make it, money is one of those things that can easily trigger tension in a marriage. Disagreements about finances make matters dicey, especially when it gets in the way of working together as a team. Someone might think their partner spends too much, another might be worried about their partner’s debt and, in some cases, and couples can’t compromise about what to spend their money on. Over time, the strain gets to be too much. What’s mine was once yours, but not anymore.
Lost Sense Of Self
We are fluid beings, and what you want can change over the course of a 20-year marriage. “Very often in relationships, a partner has been sacrificing what they want and need for the sake of keeping the marriage together.” Whether that’s passing up a job opportunity or getting lost in the role of “Mom,” the marriage could take you down a path you don’t identify with all that much anymore. It’s one thing to compromise, but it’s another to lose sight of your individuality completely. If you do, you might resent your partner and want out.
Finances are one of the major reasons that people get a divorce. Trying to communicate with another person about how to spend the money and when to spend it can get anyone on edge. When there actually isn’t enough money to go around, the tension is even higher. When there isn’t enough money people will fight more and play the ‘blame game’, which just tries to make it the other person’s fault that there is no money. If people can just get some help, maybe take some finance classes, and then they can save their marriage.
More than half of couples that get divorced say that they are getting divorced because of their spouse being unfaithful. This is a staggering number, considering the amount of divorces in this country. Trying to stay close as a couple and making sure that honesty and communication are valued might make a big difference to stop infidelity before it starts. However, it is understandable for a couple to not stay together if one spouse is no longer committed to the relationship.
Studies have shown that forty-four percent of couples get divorced because they feel like the relationship is not equal and fair. That fact alone was enough to make a lot of couple’s call it quits.
Utah Property Division
In Utah the courts generally accept a fair and reasonable property division the parties agree to, but if the parties cannot agree, the District or Family Court divides the marital estate within the Judgment of Divorce. Utah law requires an equitable division of marital property. Equitable means fair, which is not necessarily equal. When spouses agree about property division, the judge makes certain their agreement is fair and reasonable. Property division cannot be revisited after the order is made, except under limited circumstances. Judges in Utah, rather than rely on a hard and fast set of rules for property division, enjoy discretion to consider factors unique to each marriage. Despite the court’s relative freedom to decide what fair, courts is considered the length of the marriage and how the spouses acquired the marital property. Judges look at conditions each spouse faces alone after the divorce, such as medical needs and childcare costs. Each spouse’s level of education and earning potential are also relevant. Judges may divide property unequally after considering these and other factors. When a long marriage ends, the court considers the economic impact of the divorce, particularly if one spouse’s earning capacity has been greatly enhanced through the efforts of both spouses during the marriage. For long-term marriages, equitable may mean a 50-50 split, or the court may decide that it is fair to give one party more or less than 50% of the property. For short-term marriages, the court may strive to restore the spouses to the economic position they enjoyed before the marriage. The court may decide one spouse is responsible for all joint debts and liabilities of the parties incurred during marriage. According to the Utah, a fair distribution of property includes several factors, such duration of the marriage, the age and health of the parties, their occupations, the amounts and sources of income and related matters. Spouses may establish the terms and conditions for the distribution of property by a valid premarital agreement. Under the Uniform Premarital Agreement Act, agreements made in contemplation of marriage become effective upon marriage. A valid premarital agreement can affect real and personal property, including earnings, other income, and retirement benefits. A premarital agreement cannot govern child support, a child’s healthcare insurance or expenses, or childcare expenses.
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