Side Effects of Divorce (2001)
Dear Fellow M.I.P.A. Members:
I would like to take this opportunity to wish each one of you a Happy and Healthy New Year. As we enter this new year, I am confident that the legal and mental health professions will continue to work together to reduce the devastating impact that divorce has taken on our society. The statistics are alarming on all of the participants involved. This includes children, women, men and society as a whole, who are all affected in different ways.
In order to make us even more sensitive to our clients/patients needs both during and after a divorce, I would request that all M.I.P.A. members take few moments to consider the following statistics. Hopefully, one or more of these statistics will stick with you the next time you are assisting a client/patient during a divorce and will help you in better understanding your client/patient’s needs or make you more aware of what your client/patient may be facing when the divorce is over.
1. One out of every two first marriages ends in divorce.
2. Sixty percent (60%) of remarriages end in divorce.
3. The median duration of a marriage is 7.2 years.
4. The median age of divorce is 32 years of age.
5. The estimated average cost of divorce is $15,000
6. The estimated average length of divorce proceedings is 1 year.
7. The number of woman who are stalked by a husband or ex-husband every years is 380,000.
8. The number of men who are stalked by a wife or ex-wife every year is 52,000.
9. The number of cohabiting couples in 1960 was 439,000 and the number of cohabiting couples in 1998 is 4.2 million.
10. In 1991, only 50.8% of American children were living with a mother and a father.
11. That only 4% of American children are living only with their father.
12. That the vast majority of children who are raised in a two-parent home will never be poor during childhood. By contrast, the vast majority of children who spend time in a single-parent home will experience poverty.
13. Children from female-headed homes are five times as likely to be poor as children in two-parent families.
14. Four times as many divorced woman with children fell under the poverty line than married women with children.
15. A study by Dr. Debra Dawson found that children from disrupted marriages experience greater risk of injury; asthma, headaches, and speech defects than children from intact families.
16. Suicide rates from children of divorce are much higher than for children from intact families.
17. Dr. Wallerstein, both in her own studies and in a review of similar studies, found that there were significant groups of children who, even six years after the breakup of their parents’ marriage, were “impulsive, irritable and socially withdrawn” and tended to be “lonely, unhappy, anxious, and insecure.”
18. A 1993 study by Dr. Nicholas Zill found that children of divorce were twice as likely as children from intact families to drop out of school.
19. Children from disrupted marriages were over 70% more likely than those living with both biological parents to have been expelled or suspended from school.
20. Delinquency rates are 10% to 15% higher in broken homes than in intact ones.
21. According to Dr. Zill’s study, 18 to 22 year olds from disrupted families were twice as likely to have poor relationships with their mothers and fathers. Zill found the effect of divorce still evident 12 to 22 years after the breakup.
22. White female children of divorce were 60% more likely to undergo divorce or separation in adulthood than a similar population from intact families. The divorce/separation rate from white male children of divorce was 35% higher than for white male children from intact families.
23. Divorced adults and particularly adult males experience greater health issues.
24. Divorced males are more likely to commit suicide.
25. Divorce and separated males are more likely to need to undergo some sort of psychiatric care.
The above statistics are just a few of the many statistics that I have come across, as an attorney, during my nearly 20-year Family Law career. As a former Chairperson of the Family Law Section of the State Bar of Michigan; as a fellow in the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers; and as president of the Michigan Interprofessional Association, I have worked hard over the years to educate judges, attorneys, mental health professionals and my clients on just how damaging divorce can be on everyone involved. The statistics clearly show that divorce affects everyone in our society.
As judges, divorce lawyers and mental health professionals, we have an obligation to our professions and to our clients/patients to be aware of the devastating impact of divorce on everyone and attempt to make the process and resulting consequences easier to handle.
As your president, I look forward to working with each and everyone of you in addressing the problems that exist in our respective professions. I look forward to assisting many of you in helping your patients/clients through the painful and difficult divorce process. Likewise, I want to thank you in advance for the reciprocal help I often receive from many of you in helping my clients get through their divorce and post judgment problems. Together, I am confident that we can make an impact in the lives of those we touch and better society as a whole. For those of you who may wish to contact me, I have several new numbers:
I look forward to hearing and working with you during the next two years of my presidency.
Very truly yours,
Michael A. Robbins