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Divorce is not always easy because there are so many legalities involved in the process. Child custody, property settlements and parental responsibilities are some of the legal issues that come into the picture when getting a divorce. It can be mentally and emotionally taxing and the last thing you want to do is struggle with the process. A divorce lawyer comes in handy during this trying phase of your life. The divorce attorney represents and guides you through the process, making it easier for you to handle. But to enjoy a smooth process, you must find yourself a reliable attorney.

1. Talk to friends and relatives

2. Know what your needs are

3. Do your research

4. Create a budget

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The Urban Legend of the 50% Divorce Rate

Most of us have heard the often repeated statement that 50% of all marriages end up in divorce. This "fact" gets passed from one media "source" to another without anyone ever checking its original source. So we decided to check with the final authority on all things demographic: The Unite States Census Bureau.

Typical of statements often repeated in the media, the 50% number is an oversimplification that does not begin to tell the important story about divorce rates. There are much more interesting figures that tell us how the divorce rate has changed over the decades and suggest the reasons for their changes. But first, to understand the issues around divorce rates we need to answer this question:

Just What is a Divorce Rate?

What does it mean to say that some percent of marriages "end up" in divorce?

People stay married for many decades. Some get divorced at one year, five years, fifteen years or even sixty years after the marriage. And some die married. Therefore, we only know the rate at which marriages end up in divorce for people who married far back enough in the past for all of them to have already died.

But we can also start with a more recent cohort of people who married on the same year and estimate the divorce rate of the remaining marriages on the last available year of their data. The more recent the cohort of marriages, the longer and less reliable is the estimated period.

Or we can state divorce rates as of a given wedding anniversary, such as "35% by the 25th anniversary". This allows us to compare divorce rates between people who married on different years by the same standard.

A divorce rate alone, without:

  1. stating the year of the marriages,
  2. qualifying it by the anniversary when the divorce rate was calculated and
  3. mentioning whether it is an actual or estimated rate

is a meaningless number

Is the Divorce Rate Rising or Falling?

It would be foolish to expect that divorce rates have been at the same 50% for many decades. Few things having to do with human behavior stays the same for very long. So we need to do our best to understand whether the divorce rate has been rising or falling during the last few decades.

The following article published by the Census Bureau sheds some light on the direction of the divorce rates:

Rose M. Kreider and Renee Ellis, "Number, Timing, and Duration of Marriages and Divorces: 2009, Household Economic Studies, May 2011", Current Population Reports.

The data for this Census Bureau article was based on a survey of over 39,000 households given in 2009 to 55,597 adults that were married at some time in their lives. What follows summarizes some important facts from this article:

Perhaps that more recent gradual drop in the 10-year divorce rate is a sign that married couples have managed to improve how they cope with women working outside the home. This may be related to the postponement of the age of marriage, leading to marriages of more mature people. Or it could be happening because the most likely people to divorce are the ones whose marriage rates have dropped the most.

In addition, we have to consider that we should expect the increase in the divorce rate due to rising female independence to stop at some point. This is because this increase in the divorce rate only affects the percent of wives who are dissatisfied with their husbands and their rising income removed the dependency obstacle to divorce. At some point, all wives dissatisfied with their husbands earn enough income to be able to get a divorce and the divorce rate stops rising.

Consequences of the Increase in the Divorce Rates

Some would argue that it is good that women should not have to be tied to a husband they dislike any more than men to a wife they dislike. Women's improved employment opportunities removed the economic obstacle to break up an undesirable marriage, an obstacle that very few men did not have to face.

Others would object to anything that increases the divorce rate, particularly when the couple has children, due to the harm that divorce can do to them. Even with no children involved, divorce has a very traumatic effect on the divorcing couples. And some people have religious or moral objections to any type of divorce.

Whether the long-term increase in the divorce rates is an acceptable price to pay for equal opportunities and higher employment rates for women is something we will let the readers decide for themselves.

Graphs and References Link,

Graphs of the Data From the Census Articles and Tables:

References Links to the Census Articles and Tables:

On the search rectangle on the upper right hand corner of this page:

For the Kreider and Ellis article enter "Number, Timing" and click on Go, then click on the article's name at the top of the page.

For the Census Bureau table on labor force participation rates, enter "Table 597", click on Go, then click on the table's name at the top of the page.

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Divorce proceedings are linked inexorably in the public imagination with bitter, vitriolic court battles over ownership of the house, custody of the children and alimony payments. However, despite this image's pervasiveness of this image, it is largely untrue for modern divorces. While many contested divorces can end in acrimonious court battles, this form of divorce makes up only 5% of modern divorces. Uncontested settlements - in which the couples come up with their own agreement without the courts - make up the other 95%.

If you're considering ending your marriage, it can be beneficial to understand the differences between contested and uncontested divorces. Knowing what separates the two and the realities you face when you file for divorce can be crucially important.

If you can't work out your differences with your spouse, expect to go through the court battles that go along with a contested divorce. It is often a good idea to engage the services of an experienced divorce attorney, as the process may get acrimonious.

If you have any more questions about the divorce process and what it means for you, please visit the website of the San Jose divorce attorneys of the Law Office of Daniel Jensen.

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