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Divorce almost inevitably follows separation

Divorce can be a long and complicated process, and it may even go through multiple fits and starts. As part of that process, the typical starting point is a period of separation between the spouses during which they may reassess their marriage. Of course, it may come as no surprise to many Massachusetts readers that divorce almost inevitably follows a separation.

According to the results of a recent report based on findings derived from a population study that began in 1979, 79 percent of married couples end up getting divorced after separating. The population study covers 7,272 people, and it also found that of those it began following in 1979, only 51 percent were still married more than three decades later. Of those who divorced, more than half first sought a separation instead of going straight for the divorce.

However, the study also revealed another interesting statistic amongst those who separate first, then divorce. It found that spouses with young children were more likely to first try separating and that the length of the marriage additionally affected the choice to separate. Overall, the study suggests that fewer people seek an immediate divorce.

Also perhaps of interest for Massachusetts readers is that the average length of separation among those who eventually reunited was two years. Thus, while a couple may separate for quite some time, they may nonetheless choose to make amends even after years apart. However, the study did not find any couples who reunited after more than three years of separation. Thus as one researcher noted, "three years is the point of no return," after which divorce has been the only observable outcome.

Source: USA TODAY, "New evidence says 79% of couples who separate end up divorcing," Sharon Jayson, May 6, 2012

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