A 17-year study conducted between 1980 and 1997 by Pennsylvania State University researchers Denise Preveti and Paul Amato revealed the main reasons why people get divorced. Surprisingly, finances aren’t on the list. The top five reasons for divorce are:
- Infidelity (21.6%)
- Incompatibility (19.2%)
- Drinking or drug use (10.6%)
- Grew apart (9.6%)
- Personality problems (9.1%)
Researchers spoke to 208 men and women age 55 and under across the U.S. They asked open-ended questions such as “What do you think caused the divorce?” Preveti and Amato found that individuals questioned were more likely to assign blame to former spouses than themselves. Both men and women stated women wanted the divorce more.1
Data gathered from 1980 to 1985 came during the tail end of the new feminist movement. This movement, which caused social and economic upheaval, is thought to have caused the American divorce rate to peak in the 1970s and early 1980s. The number of divorces has declined since that period.2 Data gathered in the 1990s came from a period in which there was a rise in “gray divorce,” or elderly couples seeking divorce. Elderly is defined in this case as age 50 and older. “Gray divorce” is a trend that continued into the first decade of the 2000s.<3
The fact that there were two unusual trends during the study period may have skewed the results. The reasons that individuals sought a divorce between 1980 and 1997 may not be the same reasons that individuals are seeking divorces today. Yet the leading cause of divorce, infidelity, is not a surprise. Infidelity was also the most commonly stated cause of divorce in a 1985 study similar to Preveti and Amato’s study.4
What Does this Study Teach Us about Divorce?
The studies cited reveal American couples get divorced for a wide variety of reasons. In addition, the studies show that people’s accounts of divorce vary with gender, socioeconomic status, and life course variables, which include having children and changing jobs. The studies further indicate that even as no-fault divorces have become more prevalent, individuals report problematic behavior on the part of their former spouses.
The studies teach us there are definite reasons behind most divorces. Further, women appear more likely to perceive problematic behavior on the part of their husbands and seek divorce.
What Wallin & Klarich Can Do For You
If you are seeking a divorce, you should speak to an experienced divorce attorney at Wallin & Klarich immediately. At Wallin & Klarich, our skilled family law attorneys have been successfully representing our clients in divorce and family law matters for over 30 years.
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1. Amato, P.R. and Preveti, D. People’s Reasons for Divorcing: Gender, Social Class, the Life Course, and Adjustment. Journal of Family Issues 24 (5), published July 2003, pp. 602-626.↩
3. The Gray Divorce Revolution: Rising Divorce Among Middle-aged and Older Adults, 1990-2010. Bowling Green State University study, March 2013. See: https://www.bgsu.edu/content/dam/BGSU/college-of-arts-and-sciences/NCFMR/documents/Lin/The-Gray-Divorce.pdf↩
4. Kitson, G. C., Babri, K. B., & Roach, M. J. Who Divorces And Why: A Review. Journal of Family Issues 6, published 1983, pp. 255-293.↩
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