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Study shows divorce may spread.

Pennsylvania couples may be interested to hear about a new study that indicates that there is a possibility that, when a couple has friends that divorce, they are more likely to divorce as well. The study showed that there is an increase of 75 percent in the risk of a couple getting a divorce if people in the couple's social network get divorced. Even having a divorced acquaintance can increase the likelihood by 33 percent, according to the research.

Researchers believe their data could provide some insight into why 43 percent of all married couples in the United States divorce before reaching their 15 year anniversary. There may be a flaw with this research, however, due to the fact that the data is based on the Framingham study. The overwhelming majority of the participants in this long running study were not representative of the general population as a whole.

The recent conclusions, however, are based on "network contagion," a phenomenon that the behavior of peers can affect an individual. There have been many studies regarding this phenomenon with relation to things such as weight and having children. This study may be the first to examine how a person's social ties affect the longevity of a couple's marriage.

It could take some time to see whether the trends defined in this study hold true. However, what is true is the approximate percentage of couples around the country and here in Pennsylvania that are getting a divorce. When that happens, it can help to understand what each party's rights and responsibilities are with regard to issues such as property division, child custody, child support and spousal maintenance/alimony.

Source: theatlanticwire.com, Divorce Can Be Contagious, Alexander Abad-Santos, Oct. 21, 2013

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