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Divorce rates higher among poorly educated and unemployed

Pennsylvania residents will likely have heard many times that half of all marriages end in divorce. While the percentage of marriages in the United States that end in divorce peaked during the late 1970s and early 1980s and has been gradually falling in ever since, the divorce rate among certain racial, religious and socio-economic groups may be far higher or lower than the national average.

Financial pressures and money worries are often at the root of marital discord, so it may come as no surprise to learn that unemployed individuals divorce at a higher rate than those who are working. However, there are significant differences in the divorce rates of employed individuals when gender and age are taken into consideration. These differences are most pronounced among employed women over the age of 60 who divorce at far higher rates than men of the same age. Experts believe that this reflects the greater degree of financial freedom enjoyed by these women.

The data also indicates that education influences divorce rates. Spouses with high school diplomas divorce at higher rates than those with college degrees, and those with advanced degrees are even more likely to remain married. High school dropouts have the highest divorce rates. While some racial and religious groups divorce at lower or higher rates than the national average, the impact of education on divorce seems to cross all demographic lines.

The decision to seek a divorce is rarely reached easily, and spouses contemplating this step are sometimes unsure about their rights under property division, spousal support and child custody laws. Family law attorneys may seek to make the process easier for spouses by explaining these rights and suggesting strategies designed to reduce conflict. These can be particularly thorny issues for same-sex couples. While a 2015 U.S. Supreme Court decision made gay marriage legal in all states, the laws dealing with same-sex divorces are still evolving.

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