A range of professionals including sociologists, demographers and public health officials recently attended the annual meeting of the Population Association of America, a group that studies trends in American society. During the conference researchers from Ohio State University presented findings of a study of marital separation, reporting that 79 percent of marital separations eventually lead to divorce.
FACTORS THAT INFLUENCE SEPARATION
According to the research, there are a number of factors which determine how long a couple spends in a state of marital separation and whether or not they eventually divorce. These factors include:
- Length of marriage - those married for more than 10 years were more likely to separate before pursuing divorce;
- Ages of children - mothers of children under five were more likely to separate rather than divorce; and
- Ethnic factors - Hispanic and African-American couples were more likely to separate and less likely to divorce.
The study indicated separation is far more common than divorce, with separations lasting anywhere from one year to more than 10 years.
SOME ADVANTAGES TO SEPARATION OVER DIVORCE
COUPLES MIGHT CHOOSE TO SEPARATE FOR A PERIOD OF TIME WHILE ATTEMPTING TO WORK THROUGH ISSUES IN COUPLE'S THERAPY. RETAINING THE MARITAL STRUCTURE HAS SOME FINANCIAL AND OTHER ADVANTAGES, INCLUDING:
- CAN CONTINUE TO FILE TAX RETURNS JOINTLY WHILE LEGALLY MARRIED;
- CAN MAINTAIN HEALTH INSURANCE THROUGH SPOUSE'S EMPLOYER; AND
- CAN INCLUDE SPOUSE'S INCOME WHEN APPLYING FOR MORTGAGE OR LOANS.
WHILE SOME COUPLES ENJOY THE ADVANTAGES OF MARRIAGE WHILE LIVING SEPARATELY FOR A PERIOD OF TIME, THERE SEEMS TO BE A TIPPING POINT. COUPLES THAT RECONCILED DID SO AFTER A PERIOD OF SEPARATION OF TWO YEARS ON AVERAGE. RESEARCHERS FOUND NO INCIDENTS OF RECONCILIATION FOLLOWING A PERIOD OF SEPARATION OF MORE THAN THREE YEARS.
COUPLES CONSIDERING SEPARATION SHOULD CONSULT WITH A MARITAL LAW ATTORNEY TO ESTABLISH GUIDELINES AND CREATE AN AGREEMENT REGARDING CHILD SUPPORT, TIME-SHARING AND SPOUSAL SUPPORT FOR THE TERMS OF THE SEPARATION PERIOD.