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Studies find wide range of risk factors for divorce

Couples in Maryland that had a child in the first seven months after marriage or whose firstborn was a girl might be more likely to get a divorce than people who waited to have a child or whose first child was a boy. Nationwide studies have identified a number of factors that could increase the likelihood that a marriage will end in divorce.

If a person has been married before, his or her subsequent marriages are less likely to be stable than the first one. Whether or not one's parents are divorced also is a factor. Studies show that people who were adopted more closely mirror their biological parents' marriage patterns than those of their adopted parents.

Women who come from religious backgrounds are more likely to stay married than those from families in which religion was not emphasized. Couples who spent more than $20,000 on their weddings are much more likely to get divorced than those that spent between $5,000 and $10,000. People whose weddings cost under $1,000 are the least likely to divorce. Individuals who have earned at least a bachelor's degree are less likely to get divorced than those who didn't finish college or go at all. Couples with similar alcohol habits are more apt to stay together than those where one person drinks a lot and the other one doesn't. Those who are extremely attractive have a harder time making their marriages work. Finally, there is a lower divorce rate among people who get married in their late 20s or early 30s than those who marry before or after those ages.

Whatever the cause, a divorce can be a difficult and emotional process. Some couples prefer to negotiate an agreement for child custody and property division because they can keep more control over the outcome, and it may be quicker and less costly. In some cases, however, this may not be possible. For example, if a couple is divorcing because of one spouse's alcoholism, the other person may have concerns about the alcoholic spouse's ability to safely care for their children.

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