Friday, February 13

So what happens after divorce?

Divorce statistics are not pretty reading, behind those statistics is a landscape of utter emotional devastation. Divorce is rising everywhere in the world, whether it be in China, Indonesia, Bhutan, you name it. Lets just concentrate here in the UK. Seems like the number of divorces is falling.

Each of the reported statistics have a challenge and needs further analysis

In 2007 the provisional divorce rate in England and Wales fell to 11.9 divorcing people per 1,000 married population compared with the 2006 figure of 12.2. The divorce rate is at its lowest level since 1981.For the fifth consecutive year, both men and women in their late twenties had the highest divorce rates of all five-year age groups. In 2007 there were 26.6 divorces per 1,000 married men aged 25-29 and 26.9 divorces per 1,000 married women aged 25-29.Since 1997 the average age at divorce in England and Wales has risen from 40.2 to 43.7 years for men and from 37.7 to 41.2 years for women, partly reflecting the rise in age at marriage.One in five men and women divorcing in 2007 had a previous marriage ending in divorce. This proportion has doubled in 27 years: in 1980 one in ten men and women divorcing had a previous marriage ending in divorce. Sixty-nine per cent of divorces were to couples where the marriage was the first for both parties.

The graph shows a bit of levelling out rather than increasing which, I suppose, some good news. We still have pretty young people divorcing, but seems like people dont learn, 1 in 5 already had been divorced once before and now they are divorcing again. Only 69% of marriages were for the first time for both parties. The average length of a marriage before divorcing has been 11 years. This is a bit confusing to me, does it really take that long before the marriage fails? Also, more than half divorces had a child less than 16 years of age.

While researching for this article, I came across the strangest of behaviours. For example, after divorce, one man wanted his kidney back which he had gifted to his wife. Or how about the Nigerian man who was forced to divorce his 82 wives. But that’s nothing when you consider the cost of each divorce in the UK. One estimate is that it costs up to £13,000 per divorce in the UK. And with the credit crunch, the situation has turned really bad. It has apparently increased by a gobsmacking 150% last summer. I quote:

Relationship experts say that they are not surprised with the Summer figures, blaming Summer vacation’s for a high percent of divorce, factors such as spending money they don’t really have, finally spending more than a week in their spouse’s company when they are probably more used to 3 hours maximum, bickering children and the time to reflect sitting on the beach wondering is this really the person you want to spend the rest of your life with.

But by and large, divorce is horrible for the woman, even these days after loads of improvement in the legal system. See the table below for a comparison of legal systems in the matter of divorce from the Economist.

According to recent research, and I quote:

Divorce makes men - and particularly fathers - significantly richer. When a father separates from the mother of his children, according to new research, his available income increases by around one third. Women, in contrast, suffer severe financial penalties. Regardless of whether she has children, the average woman's income falls by more than a fifth and remains low for many years.

This means that society has to carry the load for much longer and women keep on suffering for a very long time. But one crucial aspect, the differences arise for fathers and mothers, not males and females. Its the impact of managing children which impacts the women and as usual, the women usually get custody of the children.

All in all, divorce is frankly not good, not for the man, not for the woman, not for the children, not for the society but even within this, the woman usually gets hold of the short end of the stick. The tax system does not help either, and this is something that I find seriously stupid on parts of the succeeding UK governments. Why on earth do you not want to support marriage? when the downside is much worse for the economy and society? Study after study says that marriage, children, health, family, tax takes, you name it are better for married couples compared to individuals or even cohabiting couples. Not only it does not support, but it actively discourages marriage. I quote:

Experts say that couples where one partner works and the other stays at home are the worst affected, paying a far higher proportion of their incomes to the taxman than in almost any other civilised country. Britain is almost alone in failing to reward couples that stay together, according to the first international study of its kind. A one-earner couple on average earnings of £30,800 a year pays 40% more tax in Britain than in comparable members of the OECD group of developed nations. And, compared to European Union states, the average family is paying 25% more tax.

Bit silly, no? but then, lets not hope for economic literacy from this government of idiots. But that's besides the point. No simple answers, but if I did have to draw a lesson, I would say to women, do not marry till you are absolutely sure and be financially independent under all circumstances. 

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