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Divorce can be a socially contagious phenomenon

When couples in Iowa divorce, they may expect that the greatest impact will be felt among their children and other family members. However, there can also be repercussions felt among a larger social circle. People often report seeing several friends decide to divorce around roughly the same time period. While this could be chalked up to coincidence, statistics indicate that it is instead a real social phenomenon.

Research conducted by scholars from Brown University, Harvard University and the University of California at San Diego showed that people whose friends divorced were 75 percent more likely to divorce themselves. In addition, even people who had a friend of a friend divorce were 33 percent more likely to end their marriages. There could be a number of reasons for the effect. In the first place, many spouses stay in bad relationships out of a sense of inertia. Seeing their friends make a move to improve their lives could inspire them to do the same. In addition, spouses with unhappy relationships may see their friends enjoying a new single life with dates and hobbies, which can be very appealing.

While seeing other people make changes could prompt some couples to reconsider their relationships, others may be grateful for a good relationship. This could actually lead to taking action to improve a marriage's intimacy and communication.

Watching a friend's experience with divorce can also shine a spotlight on the financial, practical and legal aspects of the process. Still, many people have serious questions about these issues, and a family law attorney can help. A lawyer can consult with someone thinking of divorce about topics like property division, child custody and spousal support.

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