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Friends and family of divorcées more likely to divorce

Illinois residents may be interested in a recent study conducted by a research team at Brown University. The study concluded that couples with divorced friends or close family members are more likely to divorce than other couples. These results are based on 30 years worth of data collected from the residents of a town in Massachusetts.

The research revealed that a person had a 75 percent greater chance of divorcing if a close friend was divorced. That chance dropped to 33 percent if the person had a friend of a friend that was divorced. These results have led some people to wonder if divorce might be contagious. The head of the study stated that viewing divorce as an epidemic may help in explaining how it spreads. The spread of information, behaviors and attitudes through a social network, which includes friends and family, may be seen to contribute to this so-called 'social contagion." This phenomenon has been observed before in the spread of obesity among children, birth rates among siblings and adolescent sexual behavior, as well as other areas.

One factor that made this particular study of interest is that all of the participants lived in the same small town. The study required participants to name their friends and relatives, so researchers were able to see that many of them were related or knew each other. The average participant in the study named 11 other participants as a friend or family member, meaning that the results could provide a wealth of information on how familial bonds and friendships impact behavior or health.

Divorce can be complicated, especially when there are children or substantial assets involved. A local attorney may be able to help mediate highly contentious issues such as child custody, child support, alimony or property distribution.

Source: Pew Research Center, "Is divorce contagious?", Rich Morin, October 21, 2013

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