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Does religion affect divorce rates?

Is there a connection between divorce and religion? The answer might be yes, but not in the way that readers expect.

According to a recent study performed by researchers at two colleges, divorce rates are higher in religiously conservative states. The study specifically looked at divorce statistics and fundamentalist Protestant couples. 

One theory advanced by researchers was that marriages among members of such denominations often occurred at earlier ages and involved childbearing. Having children at a younger age might halt educational or career development, which could negatively impact a couple’s potential for a high, dual-income household.

The study, even if controversial, suggests that preparing for divorce, even if it’s not on the horizon, might be a wise preventative move. Marriages, after all, are also a financial union.

Specifically, a divorce attorney might advice proactive financial steps that help each spouse better assess their situation. From maintaining a separate banking account to keeping records of past tax returns, both spouses could benefit from a realistic perspective of their financial security. Such a financial inquiry should also include an analysis of employee benefits, including insurance and health policies. That information will be necessary if child support must be calculated later on.

Although readers may question whether a financial inquiry might send the wrong signal, a spouse that candidly admits his or her intention might start a valuable conversation about what may be working in a marriage -- and what might need improvement. Knowing that one’s spouse is seriously considering all available options, including a consultation with a divorce attorney, might be the catalyst needed to start an honest and healing conversation.

Source: Los Angeles Times, "More religiously conservative Protestants? More divorce, study finds," Emily Alpert Reyes, Jan. 17, 2014

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