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Study reveals divorce trends

Texas residents may be interested in some trends that emerged when Brown University researchers analyzed data accumulated from a study conducted for the past several decades. Although the study began in order to determine risk factors associated with heart disease, researchers acquired a great deal of additional data that uncovered some social trends.

The study initially followed approximately 5,000 residents of a small Massachusetts town and subsequently expanded to include family members and friends. When reviewing the data, researchers found correlations between social behavior and divorce. Participants that had a close friend or family member who was divorced were 75 percent more likely to divorce than those who did not, while those who had a friend of a friend who was divorced were 33 percent more likely to eventually go through the same process. In essence, the health of one friends' marriages often affected the stability of one's own marriage. Sociologists refer to this phenomenon as "social contagion" which is defined as the spread of behavior and attitudes among friends, family members and social networks. It has been found in other studies dealing with subjects ranging from childhood obesity to workplace illnesses.

Divorced participants that remarried were more likely to marry a fellow divorcée, especially if the remarriage occurred shortly after the first one ended. Those participants who had divorced often felt less popular as a result, in part because of the perceived loss of a former spouse's friends.

A person considering a divorce may wish to speak with an attorney who has experience in family law matters. The attorney may be able to advise the client on such matters as spousal support and property division.

Source: Pew Research Center, "Is divorce contagious?", Rich Morin, October 21, 2013

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