Prevalence and Effects
To help build empathy and compassion for your clients, it may be helpful to understand a little about divorce and the typical effects it has on men, women and children. The divorce rate in the United States is the highest in the world. Fifty percent of marriages end in divorce. Sixty-seven percent of all second marriages end in divorce. As high as these figures are, what is also true is that the divorce rate appears to be dropping. The reasons for this change are not clear. Many people cannot afford to divorce, many people cannot afford to marry. Another reason is that "baby boomers," who account for a large proportion of our population are no longer in their 20s and 30s, the ages when divorce is most prevalent. The societal expectation is that divorced life is less satisfying than married life. Divorce is associated with an increase in depression--people experience loss of partner, hopes and dreams, and lifestyle. The financial reality of divorce is often hard to comprehend: the same resources must now support almost twice the expenses.
Fifty percent of all children are children of divorce. Twenty-eight percent of all children are born of never married parents. Divorce is expensive. Aid for Dependent Children (AFDC) resources are drained by the needs of divorced and single parent families; including the cost of collecting child support. Given the current population and judicial system growth, the State of Oregon Justice 2020 report predicted that by the year 2020 the average waiting time for trial would be approximately 190 months (almost 16 years).
Here are some of the experiences of men and women in divorce.
1. Women initiate divorce twice as often as men
2. 90% of divorced mothers have custody of their children (even if they did not receive it in court)
3. 60% of people under poverty guidelines are divorced women and children
4. Single mothers support up to four children on an average after-tax annual income of $12,200
5. 65% divorced mothers receive no child support (figure based on all children who could be eligible, including never-married parents, when fathers have custody, and parents without court orders); 75% receive court-ordered child support (and rising since inception of uniform child support guidelines, mandatory garnishment and license renewal suspension)
6. After divorce, women experience less stress and better adjustment in general than do men. The reasons for this are that (1) women are more likely to notice marital problems and to feel relief when such problems end, (2) women are more likely than men to rely on social support systems and help from others, and (3) women are more likely to experience an increase in self-esteem when they divorce and add new roles to their lives.
7. Women who work and place their children in child care experience a greater stigma than men in the same position. Men in the same position often attract support and compassion.
1. Men are usually confronted with greater emotional adjustment problems than women. The reasons for this are related to the loss of intimacy, the loss of social connection, reduced finances, and the common interruption of the parental role.
2. Men remarry more quickly than women.
3. As compared to "deadbeat dads," men who have shared parenting (joint legal custody), ample time with their children, and an understanding of and direct responsibility for activities and expenses of children stay involved in their children's lives and are in greater compliance with child support obligations. There is also a greater satisfaction with child support amount when negotiated in mediation. Budgets are prepared, and responsibility divided in a way that parents understand.
4. Men are initially more negative about divorce than women and devote more energy in attempting to salvage the marriage.