Is divorce contagious? It can be

If friends, co-workers, family members, neighbors or others in your social circle are going through a divorce, what does that mean for your marriage? The short answer is, "It depends."

Couples often get nervous when they see people they know breaking up. Can it happen to them, too? If you have a happy, healthy marriage, someone else's divorce isn't going to change that. There's no reason to avoid your friend or family member. After all, he or she probably needs a strong support system now more than ever.

However, there are reasons why the Pew Research Center found that people are 75 percent more likely to divorce if they're close to someone who is than if they're not. Even if you're two degrees removed from a person who's divorcing (say the friend of a friend), your odds of a marital break-up are one-third higher.

There are some logical reasons behind the seeming "contagiousness" of divorce. For example, if there are problems in your relationship, it can cause a deeper evaluation of that relationship and possibly a decision that divorce is the best solution. On the other hand, it could spur you and your spouse to make changes and/or consult a therapist to work out your problems.

Watching someone close to you go through a divorce can help people see that they can do it too. It can be empowering to people staying in an unhappy marriage because they were afraid to go out on their own. They can also learn from their friend's or family member's mistakes and avoid some of the pitfalls in their own divorce.

If you are contemplating divorce or believe that your spouse is, the sooner you seek legal advice the better. Seeing a New York family law attorney doesn't mean that you're rushing into anything. However, it can help you get your ducks in a row, so to speak, so that you're in a stronger legal and financial position should you divorce.

Source: The Stir, "Yes, You Can 'Catch' a Friend's Divorce -- and Here's Who's at Risk," Stephanie Booth, April 14, 2016

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