Divorce isn't easy for anyone. But for the poorest couples in our nation, money-related issues all too often contribute to divorce -- or prove to be a barrier to obtaining one once they decide to call it quits.
Click through the slideshow below to read about recent research on the intersection of divorce and poverty, then weigh in: which study surprised you most?
Divorce Is Too Expensive For The Poorest Americans
More couples are opting for long-term marital separations because they <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/08/20/divorce-expensive-americans_n_1811821.html" target="_hplink">cannot afford to divorce</a>, according to a study conducted by <a href="http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2012-08/asa-msa081412.php" target="_hplink">Ohio State University</a> that was published in August 2012. Researchers surveyed 7,272 people between 1979 and 2008. Most people in the study who separated from a spouse reported getting a divorce within three years of separating. But <a href="http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2012-08/asa-msa081412.php" target="_hplink">15 percent of people who separated did not get a divorce within the first 10 years</a> because it was too costly, especially when children were involved.
Unemployed Men Are More Likely To Split
In July 2011, researchers at Ohio State University found that <a href="http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2011-06/uocp-hes062011.php" target="_hplink">unemployed men face a greater likelihood that their wives will initiate divorce</a>. They also found that men are more likely to leave their marriages when out of work. A woman's employment status had no effect on whether or not her husband stays or leaves. "There's something still about men's non-employment that flies in the face of what couples think a marriage should be," the study's <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/07/01/unemployment-divorce-stud_n_888357.html" target="_hplink">lead researcher Liana Sayer told the Huffington Post.</a>
Children Of Divorce Are More Likely To Live In Poverty
Children of divorce are more likely to live in poverty and to live with their mothers, <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/08/25/divorce-poverty-children-census_n_936896.html" target="_hplink">according to a Census report</a> on marriage released in August 2011. According to the report, three-quarters of children in divorced families lived with their mother in 2009.<a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/08/25/divorce-poverty-children-census_n_936896.html" target="_hplink"> Twenty-eight percent of children within that group lived below the poverty rate,</a> compared to a 19% poverty rate among other children.
Couples Who Receive Government Assistance Are More Prone To Divorce
According to <a href="http://phys.org/news/2011-09-couples-marital-satisfaction-commitment.html" target="_hplink">a study released by the University of Missouri</a> in September 2011, married couples that receive government assistance, such as Medicaid or food stamps, are more prone to divorce. Of the 295 couples surveyed, those earning $20,000 or less and receiving government assistance reported significantly lower rates of marital satisfaction than couples with the same income that received no state support. In <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/09/14/government-assistance-and_n_959237.html" target="_hplink">an interview with the Huffington Post</a>, researcher Dr. David Schramm sized up the implications of the study. "We have to take a closer look at what the effect of government assistance is, and how it may affect people's attitudes and make them feel inferior," he said. "There may be a stigma associated with receiving welfare assistance, so I think we need to do a better job of looking at what government assistance does to individuals' sense of self and well-being."
Lower Income Couples Hold Similar Marriage Values As Higher-Earning Couples
In a <a href="http://www.ncfr.org/sites/default/files/downloads/news/jmf_july_2012_0.pdf" target="_hplink">June 2012 study</a>, researchers at UCLA found that people with lower incomes value marriage just as much as those with higher incomes, though they're more likely to grapple with economic and social issues such as money problems, drinking and drug use. "We found that people with low incomes value marriage as an institution, have similar standards for choosing a marriage partner and experience similar problems with managing their relationships," <a href="http://www.yourtango.com/2012156563/why-do-low-income-marriages-have-lower-success-rates" target="_hplink">researcher Thomas Trail said of the study</a>. "We suggest that initiatives to strengthen marriage among the poor should also take social issues into account, as they can place a tremendous amount of stress on a marriage."
Retired Women Are More Likely To Live In Poverty Than Retired Men, Partly Because Of Divorce
According to a July 2012 Government Accountability Office study, women aged 65 and older <a href="http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2012-07-25/women-seen-living-retirement-in-poverty-at-higher-rates-than-men.html" target="_hplink">live in poverty at higher rates than men</a>, despite their involvement in employer-sponsored retirement plans. The study showed that divorce and widowhood had "detrimental effects" for retired women or those reaching the point of retirement, and took more of a toll on women's finances than men's.
The States With The Highest Divorce Rates Are Also The Poorest
An <a href="http://www.census.gov/newsroom/releases/archives/marital_status_living_arrangements/cb11-144.html" target="_hplink">August 2011 Census report</a> on marriage showed that men and women in the South had higher rates of divorce in 2009 than in other regions of the country -- 10.2 divorces per 1,000 men and 11.1 per 1,000 women. Comparatively, the national divorce rate was 9.2 for men and 9.7 for women. The high divorce rates can be partly attributed to <a href="http://www.census.gov/newsroom/releases/archives/marital_status_living_arrangements/cb11-144.html" target="_hplink">higher marriage rates in the South</a>, Diana Elliott, a family demographer at the Census Bureau said. <a href="http://today.msnbc.msn.com/id/44308315/ns/today-money/t/oklahoma-tops-list-highest-divorce-rates/#.UDaqXRrLyRl" target="_hplink">But according to 24/7 Wall St</a>, its the tough economic climate that drives the divorce rate up. The site reported that states with particularly high divorce rates had below median household income and a high percentage of the population living below the poverty line.
HuffPost Live will be taking a comprehensive look at the persistence of poverty in America Aug. 29 and Sept. 5 from 12-4 p.m. EDT and 6-10 p.m. EDT. Click here to check it out -- and join the conversation.
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