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How a husband's employment status affects divorce risk

The likelihood of divorce for some couples in Massachusetts may come down to the employment status of the husband according to a study that examined more than 6,300 married couples over 46 years. The study found that the divorce rate began to increase around 1975, but this was not wholly due to the fact that divorce became more acceptable or that more women entered the workforce.

In fact, how economically independent women were did not appear to factor into the likelihood of divorce at all. Household chores also did not tend to correlate with divorce rates. However, one factor that did was whether or not the husband was employed full time.

In any given year, for couples in which the husband is employed full time, the likelihood of divorce is 2.5 percent. For husbands who did not have full-time employment, the likelihood rose to 3.3 percent. The study did not explore the reasons, and it could be related to the financial strain caused by one spouse not working.

Finances may also be an element of a divorce dispute. For example, if the husband is making significantly less income, a judge might order the other spouse to pay spousal support. In some cases, depending on the age of the couple and other factors, this support may be temporary and might last while the husband trains for new employment. A nonworking or lower-earning spouse might also be concerned about getting a part of the retirement account. On the other hand, the person who is making less income should be careful about keeping the family home because even if it is paid off, the upkeep and taxes could make it difficult to hold on to.

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