Study: More expensive rings, weddings linked to higher risk of divorce

Greater spending on engagement rings and weddings is linked to a higher risk of divorce, possibly due to the financial strain these expenses create.

For many couples in Pennsylvania, a wedding is a special, once-in-a-lifetime occasion for which no expenses should be spared. Although many couples are determined to have the best during their weddings, most do not think the event - or the expense - will have any real influence on whether they stay married or separate. Surprisingly, though, a new study has found that couples that spend more may also have a higher risk of divorce.

Financial burdens

Professors from Emory University surveyed more than 3,000 people who had been married in the past, according to the Huffington Post. The study found that, despite wedding industry claims to the contrary, purchasing a pricier engagement ring or spending more on the actual wedding did not increase marital happiness. Instead, it increased divorce risk, as the following figures show:

  • Compared to men who spent $500 to $2,000 on engagement rings, men who spent between $2,000 and $4,000 were 1.4 times more likely to get divorced.
  • Compared to women who spent $5,000 to $10,000 on a wedding, women who spent over $20,000 were 3.5 times more likely to get divorced.
  • In general, people who spent less than $1,000 on a wedding had a much lower risk of divorce.

The study authors suggest a clear reason for this pattern: stress resulting from spouses overextending themselves financially. The study found that women who spent less than $1,000 on their weddings were 82 to 93 percent less likely to feel financial stress. Women with rings worth more than $2,000, meanwhile, were three times more likely to express anxiety over wedding-related expenses.

Unfortunately, these financial obligations may be too much for some newlyweds, especially those with existing debts. If these spouses do ultimately decide to divorce, an equitable division of both marital assets and debts is essential.

Pennsylvania property division

The Pennsylvania Code does not require that property be split evenly in half between divorcing spouses. Instead, a family law judge divides property in a way that is considered equitable.

When dividing marital assets, a judge may weigh each spouse's age, health, earning power, non-marital property and contribution to the marital assets. When dividing debts, a judge may consider similar factors as well as the way the debts were incurred. Debts from frivolous activities, such as gambling, may be assigned solely to the responsible spouse.

During a divorce, each spouse keeps his or her own separate property. This is property obtained before the marriage or after the date of separation. A debt that is considered separate property is only the responsibility of one spouse. However, a spouse's separate debts may be factored in when marital assets and marital debts are divided, resulting in the spouse receiving greater marital assets or fewer marital debts.

The way a spouse presents his or her case can significantly affect the way marital property is divided during a Pennsylvania divorce. Anyone who is preparing for a divorce while dealing with significant debt should meet with a family law attorney as soon as possible for assistance preparing for the divorce proceedings.

Keywords: divorce, separation, property division