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Research suggests divorce may be socially contagious

When a marriage hits the skids, some couples grin and bear it while others call it quits and file for divorce. A study out of Brown University suggests that couples who take the latter approach may cause a ripple effect within their social circles, increasing the chances that other couples they know will divorce.

According to the study, 75 percent of people are more likely to divorce if a friend or family member is divorced. What's more, researchers found that the same phenomenon exists even if the divorced acquaintance is only a friend of a friend. Specifically, 33 percent of people are more likely to divorce if they have a friend of a friend who has done so. Although some commentators have cast these findings in a negative light, the phenomenon can just as easily be viewed positively.

After all, while some rough patches in a marriage are temporary, others are not. When a marriage is truly not working out, divorce often gives both partners a better chance of being happy in the long run. However, the prospect can be terrifying for both spouses, so it is not uncommon for people to stay in an unhappy relationship rather than face the uncertainty involved in leaving. Seeing friends and family members navigate the transition successfully may be just the boost that some couples need to take the bold step forward into a new and more satisfying life apart.

For anyone contemplating the end of a marriage in Minnesota, it is a good idea to talk things over with a knowledgeable divorce and family law attorney early on in the process. A lawyer with experience in this area can advise clients of their legal rights and the options that are available for a wide range of issues relating to divorce, such as child custody and the division of debts and assets.

Source: CBS, "New Study Says Divorce Can Be Contagious," April 30, 2014 (viewed May 22, 2014)

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