Divorce and Separation

Divorce and separation are two of the most common types of legal separation, though many couples do not know how they differ from each other. In most cases, the legal separation of a couple is the result of unreasonable behavior on both sides, such as physical abuse, substance abuse, or chronic arguments over money, family, and lifestyle. A deed of separation is a document that allows couples to separate and live apart legally. It is a legal agreement between the two parties that spells out the terms of the separation agreement, including any assets or debts that the couple share.

A pooled regression of labor-market variables, based on census data from 1940 to 1970, predicts a decline in divorce between those years. A clear candidate for the intervening variable is male income, which has a significant relationship with marital stability in almost every census year. Real incomes for men increased sharply over the past century, and most of that change occurred between 1940 and 1970. Median wages for men aged 20 to 39 rose from about $6,000 to over $17,000 in constant 1990 dollars.

In addition to the age-related differences, other factors that are related to the labor-market variables have a significant impact on divorce rates. For example, the number of black women in the workforce raises the probability of divorce by eight percentage points, while black male participation increases the risk of separation by sixteen percent. Low male participation rates in the labor market have long been a contributing factor in the high divorce rate. However, gender differences may also play a role.

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