Is Early Marriage An Indicator of Divorce? - The Chicago Family Law Blog

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Is Early Marriage An Indicator of Divorce?

Many of us who married in our thirties can look back at our high school sweethearts, college flings and short lived relationships of early adulthood with a combination of nostalgia and relief. Would any of them have worked as solid and lasting marriages?

Everyone has their own experience, but data suggests the odds are that those who marry early have a greater likelihood of getting divorced, according to the Pew Research Center. 

The above-referenced article concludes that states with the youngest brides and grooms such as Arkansas and Oklahoma had higher than normal divorce rates in 2007 and 2008. Meanwhile, Massachusetts and New York had a higher percentage of older first-time married couples and a corresponding lower rate of divorce.

The caseload of divorce attorneys in Chicago, however, was probably closer to the national average. The percentage of divorced men and women in Illinois was just one point lower than the national averages of 9 percent for men and 12 percent for women, according to Pew, while the median age of Illinois newlyweds was 29 for men and 27 for women (each just one year older than the national average).

Social scientists even go as far as saying that early marriage is the No. 1 predictor of divorce, according to a recent column by David Lapp in The Wall Street Journal.

But why? Mr. Lapp attempts to answer this question by quoting a group of unnamed Penn State sociologists:     

"In industrial countries, young people age 18 to 25 are expected to explore their identity, work and love by delaying marriage and parenthood. . . . Those individuals who fail to postpone these family transitions miss out on better career opportunities, make poor choices on partners, and may experience problems."

But that's just a theory and not all scholars agree, including researchers at the University of Texas who found that people who married between the ages of 22 and 25 had the best prospects for a lasting marriage. Most researchers do agree that money problems often precede a divorce, though. For more information about money. love, marriage and divorce, please visit our Related Resources links.

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