Effects of Divorce Laws on Divorce Rates

A question that about divorce rates that comes up over and over is the extent to which making it legally harder or easier to get a divorce influences what people do.  The biggest problem is untangling changing views about divorce from the legal changes.  Often these are happening simultaneously so it is unclear what is causing the change.

There have been a couple of good papers from Europe that address these issues.

See:  The Effect of Divorce Laws on Divorce Rates in Europe by Libertad González &
Tarja K. Viitanen.

Divorce and the Recession

Philip Cohen does some interesting work trying to sort out whether the recession has led to an increase in the divorce rate.

Does Extramarital Sex Cause Divorce?

The answer seems to be common sense. Ask anyone about whether having an affair affects marriage and they will likely say that infidelity is severely damaging. So what has been the view of family scientists and clinicians?

Until very recently, there was a general belief among family scientists and clinicians that extramarital sexual relationships had little impact on whether or not a couple divorced. Huh? Why is that? Many scientists view extramarital sex as the result of a marital relationship that is already in bad shape. In short, extramarital sex isn’t the cause, it’s the result. Also, clinicians who work with couples in which there has been infidelity report moderate success in helping couples overcome the issues associated with an affair. In other words, for some couples, the affair prompts them to deal with marital issues and improve their relationship.

Most of the past research indicates that extramarital sex has little effect on divorce. However, a closer look at the research indicates that there are significant flaws in the samples of couples studied that raise doubts about whether these findings can truly be generalized to American society. But recently, Elizabeth Allen and David Atkins analyzed data from 16,090 individuals than gives some new insights into this issue.  For an extended discussion of this study see my Huffington Post article….