Thursday, September 25, 2008

Top Ten Myths of Divorce

I always keep my eye open for interesting material on the web. The Rutgers Marriage Project is a useful source of information. See In particular I found the following very interesting. As always, you can post any comment about this blog, Divorce Mediation, or Tucson Arizona by following the directions at the right in the green column or at the bottom of this website or participate in our Presidential poll located below the directions. WM 9/28/08

The Top Ten Myths of Divorce

Discussion of the most common misinformation about divorce
by David Popenoe
1. Because people learn from their bad experiences, second marriages tend to be more successful than first marriages.
Although many people who divorce have successful subsequent marriages, the divorce rate of remarriages is in fact higher than that of first marriages.
2 Living together before marriage is a good way to reduce the chances of eventually divorcing.
Many studies have found that those who live together before marriage have a considerably higher chance of eventually divorcing. The reasons for this are not well understood. In part, the type of people who are willing to cohabit may also be those who are more willing to divorce. There is some evidence that the act of cohabitation itself generates attitudes in people that are more conducive to divorce, for example the attitude that relationships are temporary and easily can be ended.
3. Divorce may cause problems for many of the children who are affected by it, but by and large these problems are not long lasting and the children recover relatively quickly.
Divorce increases the risk of interpersonal problems in children. There is evidence, both from small qualitative studies and from large-scale, long-term empirical studies, that many of these problems are long lasting. In fact, they may even become worse in adulthood.
4. Having a child together will help a couple to improve their marital satisfaction and prevent a divorce.
Many studies have shown that the most stressful time in a marriage is after the first child is born. Couples who have a child together have a slightly decreased risk of divorce compared to couples without children, but the decreased risk is far less than it used to be when parents with marital problems were more likely to stay together "for the sake of the children."
5. Following divorce, the woman’s standard of living plummets by seventy three percent while that of the man’s improves by forty two percent.
This dramatic inequity, one of the most widely publicized statistics from the social sciences, was later found to be based on a faulty calculation. A reanalysis of the data determined that the woman’s loss was twenty seven percent while the man’s gain was ten percent. Irrespective of the magnitude of the differences, the gender gap is real and seems not to have narrowed much in recent decades.
6. When parents don’t get along, children are better off if their parents divorce than if they stay together.
A recent large-scale, long-term study suggests otherwise. While it found that parents’ marital unhappiness and discord have a broad negative impact on virtually every dimension of their children’s well-being, so does the fact of going through a divorce. In examining the negative impacts on children more closely, the study discovered that it was only the children in very high conflict homes who benefited from the conflict removal that divorce may bring. In lower-conflict marriages that end in divorce—and the study found that perhaps as many as two thirds of the divorces were of this type—the situation of the children was made much worse following a divorce. Based on the findings of this study, therefore, except in the minority of high-conflict marriages it is better for the children if their parents stay together and work out their problems than if they divorce.
7. Because they are more cautious in entering marital relationships and also have a strong determination to avoid the possibility of divorce, children who grow up in a home broken by divorce tend to have as much success in their own marriages as those from intact homes.
Marriages of the children of divorce actually have a much higher rate of divorce than the marriages of children from intact families. A major reason for this, according to a recent study, is that children learn about marital commitment or permanence by observing their parents. In the children of divorce, the sense of commitment to a lifelong marriage has been undermined.
8. Following divorce, the children involved are better off in step families than in single-parent families.
The evidence suggests that step families are no improvement over single-parent families, even though typically income levels are higher and there is a father figure in the home. Step families tend to have their own set of problems, including interpersonal conflicts with new parent figures and a very high risk of family breakup.
9. Being very unhappy at certain points in a marriage is a good sign that the marriage will eventually end in divorce.
All marriages have their ups and downs. Recent research using a large national sample found that eighty six percent of people who were unhappily married in the late 1980s, and stayed with the marriage, indicated when interviewed five years later that they were happier. Indeed, three fifths of the formerly unhappily married couples rated their marriages as either "very happy" or "quite happy."
10. It is usually men who initiate divorce proceedings
Two-thirds of all divorces are initiated by women. One recent study found that many of the reasons for this have to do with the nature of our divorce laws. For example, in most states women have a good chance of receiving custody of their children. Because women more strongly want to keep their children with them, in states where there is a presumption of shared custody with the husband the percentage of women who initiate divorces is much lower. Also, the higher rate of women initiators is probably due to the fact that men are more likely to be "badly behaved." Husbands, for example, are more likely than wives to have problems with drinking, drug abuse, and infidelity.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Teenage Marriage

Politics often raises collateral issues. All the recent publicity about Sarah Pallin’s daughter raised the issue of teenage marriages. Sarah Kershaw wrote about it in a recent article in the September 4, 2008, New York Times entitled, "Now, the Bad News on Teenage Marriage." See entire article at
I had not given a lot of thought to teenage marriage. The article says, "The median marrying age for women in the late 1950s was about 19, according to David Popenoe, co-director of the National Marriage Project at Rutgers University and an emeritus professor of sociology there. But a marriage between 19-year-olds — or even 17- or 18-year-olds — then would not have been described as a "teenage marriage," he said. It was too routine to be given a special label." I was also fascinated to learn that now "Over the last 35 years the median age for first marriages in America has risen dramatically, from 23 for men and 21 for women in 1970 to 27.5 for men and 25.5 for women in 2006, according to William A. Galston, a senior fellow in governance studies at the Brookings Institution."
She says in the article that "Studies show that today teenage marriages are two to three times more likely to end in divorce than are marriages between people 25 years of age and older. The most comprehensive study on marriage and age that sociologists cite was published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in 2001, from 1995 data, and it found that 48 percent of those who marry before 18 are likely to divorce within 10 years, compared with 24 percent of those who marry after age 25."
Even though there is a higher likelihood of a divorce in a teenage marriage, fortunately there are fewer of them. That is a good thing.
As always, you can post any comment about this blog, Divorce Mediation, or Tucson Arizona by following the directions at the right in the green column or at the bottom of this website or participate in our Presidential poll located below the directions. WM 9/21/08

Sunday, September 14, 2008

The Milky Way

On our way back from Denver to see the Obama acceptance speech, we stopped in Creste Butte, Colorado to visit friends. It is a beautiful town and our friends pointed out the spectacular night sky. I realized I have never seen the milky way before. It also reminded me of testing a telescope when we first moved to Tucson. I realized that you look up at the sky and only see a fraction of what is there. With the help of a telescope I saw the rings of Saturn and the moons of Jupiter. They are always there but we can't always seen them. The same is true for divorce mediation. Solutions are always there but we can't always see them. Sometimes, it takes the help of the mediator. As always, you can post any comment about this blog, Divorce Mediation, or Tucson Arizona by following the directions at the right in the green column or at the bottom of this website or participate in our Presidential poll located below the directions. WM 9/14/08

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Divorce Mediation, Obama, and McCain

This is my 100th blog posting. It is appropriate that it has a political theme. We just got back from Denver and where we saw the Obama acceptance speech at Invesco Field. It was truly an historic event. It was also a challenge to get tickets. As you know, I love to google. Out of curiosity, I googled Obama divorce mediation and McCain divorce mediation. I got 131,000 hits for Obama. One of the top hits for Obama was a posting by James Melamed. He is co-founded Resourceful Internet Solutions (RIS) and in 1996. Before this, he served as Executive Director of the national Academy of Family Mediators from 1987 to 1993. The posting is entitled, "Obama’s Message - Mediation’s Political Triumph"and can be found at Melamed say, "The purpose of this article is not to endorse a candidate, but to note, as I think is undeniable, that we have at least one candidate (Obama) that is championing concepts of reaching out, capably negotiating, listening, bridging divides, and leading the world into a more collaborative and capable dialogue." I realized this was one of the many reasons I liked Obama. I got 15,000 hits for McCain divorce mediation. The most interesting hit I got was "John McCain's Staff in Damage Control Over 'Wedding Crashers" by James Hirsen on Tuesday, July 19, 2005 from The Left Coast Report, A Political Look at Hollywood. It said "Yes, Arizona senator and aspiring presidential candidate John McCain recently made his cinematic debut in this summer's bawdy romantic comedy Wedding Crashers. The cameo appearance may create a big-screen problem for McCain, though, and it doesn't have anything to do with his Clinton-defending cameo co-star James Carville. It has to do with the flick's thoroughly warranted R rating. In the movie, Owen Wilson and Vince Vaughn portray divorce mediators who crash weddings and seduce bridal attendants."
See the article at Apparently is did not hurt John McCain’s ability to get the Republican nomination. I had used the movie has part of a presentation I did a few years ago at the Connecticut Council for Divorce Mediation. I had totally forgotten that McCain was in the film. I guess he did not get an Oscar like Al Gore. As always, you can post any comment about this blog, Divorce Mediation, or Tucson Arizona by following the directions at the right in the green column or at the bottom of this website or participate in our Presidential poll located below the directions. WM 9/7/08

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Expert Witnesses Are Partisan

When mediating a case, we often have an issue which requires an expert. This usually relates to a valuation issue. The problems with experts was highlighted in a recent article in the August 11, 2008 New York Times by Adam Liptak, entitled, "In U.S., Expert Witnesses Are Partisan." You can read the entire article at The article stated that, "Judge Dillard, of the Johnson County District Court in Iowa City, did what American judges and juries often do after hearing from dueling experts: he threw up his hands. The two experts were biased in favor of the parties who employed them, the judge said, and they had given predictable testimony." It went on to say that, "The two sides have canceled each other out," the judge wrote in 2005, refusing either expert’s conclusion and complaining that "no funding mechanism" existed for him to appoint an expert...American lawyers often interview many potential expert witnesses in search of ones who will bolster their case and then work closely with them in framing their testimony to be accessible and helpful. At a minimum, the process results in carefully tailored testimony. Some critics say it can also produce bias and ethical compromises." Litak points out that, "In most of the rest of the world, expert witnesses are selected by judges and are meant to be neutral and independent." In fact in Australia the lawyers have a new way of hearing expert called "hot tubbing." He states that, "in that procedure, also called concurrent evidence, experts are still chosen by the parties, but they testify together at trial — discussing the case, asking each other questions, responding to inquiries from the judge and the lawyers, finding common ground and sharpening the open issues.. and also "England has also recently instituted what Adrian Zuckerman, the author of a 2006 treatise there, called "radical measures" to address "the culture of confrontation that permeated the use of experts in litigation." The measures included placing experts under the complete control of the court, requiring a single expert in many cases and encouraging cooperation among experts when the parties retain more than one. Experts are required to sign a statement saying their duty is to the court and not to the party paying their bills." The American system is in sharp contrast to the how we use experts in mediation. For example, when getting an appraisal for the value of the marital home, the parties agree in advance who the appraiser will be and how they will be paid. This avoids the necessity and cost of each party getting an appraiser and then having to get a third one anyway. As always, you can post any comment about this blog, Divorce Mediation, or Tucson Arizona by following the directions at the right in the green column or at the bottom of this website or participate in our Presidential poll located below the directions. This has been our 99th blog. Not sure what 100 will be yet! WM 9/3/08