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Unemployment among men may lead to divorce

Massachusetts couples who are considering divorce may be more likely to do so if the man is unemployed. A study conducted by a professor at Harvard examined more than 6,000 couples and found that while a number of other expected factors did not affect divorce rates, men who were not the traditional breadwinners in a marriage may be more likely to see their marriage end.

Starting around 1975, a more equitable division of chores was not linked to a rise in divorce rates although this was the case for couples married prior to that date. Women who worked outside the home and who were able to support themselves were also no more likely to divorce. A couple's finances also did not seem to correlate with the likelihood of a divorce. Experts speculate that it may be more likely that unemployed men were in that state for reasons outside of their control, and this strain might contribute to divorce.

The study results suggest that women who receive such government assistance as earned income tax credits are not more likely to get a divorce as a result of access to these programs. Therefore, the study might influence public policy.

Alimony and custody might also change from traditional expected arrangement if men do not work outside the home. For example, if the men have also been the primary caregivers, they might get physical custody and receive child and spousal support. People who are considering divorce might want to speak to their attorney about their situation. They might have specific goals in mind such as getting child custody or the family home.

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