Thursday, January 23, 2014

The divorce disincentive

Unmarried couples break up much more often than married couples. I'm wondering if one reason why might be the growing financial and emotional disincentives to marriage that have been imposed by the State:
Unmarried parents are four times more likely to split up than those who have wed, research revealed yesterday. It also indicated that co-habiting couples with children under 16 are now responsible for the majority of  family breakdowns. On average, 5.3 per cent of these relationships ended each year from 2009-12, according to the study. But among those who had taken their vows, the average rate was only 1.3 per cent, said the Marriage Foundation think-tank and university academics.
Here is the practical dilemma. If marriage is harder to exit without one-sided penalties, it will reduce the likelihood that men will voluntarily break up marriages, but also reduce the likelihood that men will voluntarily enter into them in the first place.

It would be interesting to know if women also account for 80 percent of all unmarried split-ups or not. If not, this would tend to indicate that the divorce disincentive is a contributing factor to unmarried split-ups by men on marriage strike.


newrebeluniv said...

I think your premise might hold merit for those men who are capable to demonstrating a time bias. But I suspect that most men in this position are simply enjoying the fruits of marriage without thinking of the long term consequences. Very few men think about "family law" prior to their first divorce.


b1bae96e-6447-11e3-b6bb-000f20980440 said...

I would actually submit where children are involved your financial rape is virtually the same regardless of marriage. Child support is being used as backdoor alimony and in most divorces the assets are trivial. Only men in the top 10% would see any financial benefit from a cohabitation, and the divorce rate among those men is actually small relative to the rest of the population.

buzzardist said...

It's always been the case that unmarried couples are more likely to break up. The difference is that we now have more unmarried couples. Partly, this is the removal of the social stigma of being unmarried. Partly, it may be that the cost of divorce is so high that couples who are unsure about a relationship may avoid getting married. Partly, it may be that couples, for various reasons, including financial ones, are much quicker to move in together early in a relationship, before they are ready to consider marriage. Whatever the reasons for cohabitating and having kids out of wedlock, the breakup of these relationships at a dramatically higher rate should not be news. A lot of people who are unwilling to commit to a marriage nonetheless try to have kids and cohabitate, and they break up more often than those who were willing to make a long-term commitment. Gee...the British government paid money for a study to discover this fact that everybody already knew?

b1bae96e-6447-11e3-b6bb-000f20980440 said...

Very few men think about "family law" prior to their first divorce.

That is changing. Keep in mind the more divorced men there are the more those divorced men show up in other men's social networks. One might be whatever but 2 or 3 and it clues you in. I know a guy who broke up with a girl he had been dating for 2 years because he found out she had 70k in student loans and 6k of credit card debt while making 30-35k. He said he wasn't going to gamble on having to pay any of that.

mina smith said...

Have you seen the new Divorce Corp documentary/mini series?

bobbye2 said...

I suspect that the majority of unmarried couples who split consist of single moms who are still riding the carousel of serial monogamy. Households mean mother and children and who the man is in relation to the children in not relevant.If they looked at unmarried households where the man is actually the father of the children, I think the numbers would be much lower. On the other hand, the child support payments from bio-dad do enable/incentivize carousel riding.

JCclimber said...

it depends on what you mean by women causing 80% of co-habitating breakups. If she gives constant pressure or delivers an ultimatum to the man to put a ring on it.....and the man says screw that, I'm out of here....I'm going to guess that most questions and interviewers are going to say the MAN initiated the breakup.

As would the interviewees: The man would say that he decided it wasn't worth getting married and she was making his life miserable, so he said "I'm outta here". The woman would say that he just suddenly left, he was such a jerk, he wouldn't marry me and man up and I'm better off after that bum left.

The Female Imperative marches on, and on, and on, and on.

Matamoros said...

Very few men think about "family law" prior to their first divorce.

Don't forget that many of these young men have fathers who were thoroughly shafted by their mothers. So they are aware.

8to12 said...

"It would be interesting to know if women also account for 80 percent of all unmarried split-ups or not. "

Freenortherner linked a study a while back that has some of the answer: What About the Fathers?.

"Yet contrary to the hit-and-run stereotype of the deadbeat dad, 7 times out of 10, men’s reaction to the news of a pregnancy is happiness—even downright joy.

In fact, when the baby enters the world, more than 8 in 10 men are still together with the mother.

They [the fathers] long to engage in the father role. But the young men we spoke to have tried to redefine fatherhood to fit their circumstances.

All fathers across America, rich and poor alike, have avidly embraced fatherhood’s softer side. Imparting love, maintaining a clear channel of communication, and spending quality time together are seen as the keys to being a good dad. This “new father” model, which spurred middle-class men to begin changing diapers several decades ago, has gained amazing traction with disadvantaged dads in the inner city, perhaps because it’s the kind of fatherhood they can most easily afford. But while middle-class men now combine these new tasks with being breadwinners, low-income fathers who face growing economic adversity are trying to substitute one role for the other.

Here is the problem: Neither society nor their children’s mothers are willing to go along with this trade-off. Love and affection are all fine and good, but who’s going to pay the light bill? What about keeping the heat on? If a child’s father can’t provide money, the attitude goes that he’s more trouble than he’s worth. Why strive to make sure he stays involved with the kids?

...When a single mom in the inner city feels her kid’s father has failed to provide, there is an enormous temptation to “swap daddies,” pushing the child’s dad aside while allowing a new man—perhaps one with a little more going for him economically—to claim the title of father. "

When it comes to poor, inner city relationships at least, the majority of the time it is the mom that ends it, not the dad.

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