People in California may be surprised to learn that when their friends divorce, they are more likely to consider divorce themselves. While ideas about the social contagion of divorce have always been popular, especially when people see several friends end their marriages in quick succession, the concept is backed up by scientific research. A study conducted by researchers at Brown University, Harvard University and the University of California at San Diego found that people with friends who divorce are 75 percent more likely to end their own marriages. In addition, even people with friends of friends who get divorced see their likelihood of divorce rise by 33 percent.
There are a number of contributing factors to this social phenomenon. In the first place, all of these events may happen inside social groups that are already comfortable with and supportive of divorce. However, it is also true that watching a friend’s divorce can stir up thoughts and emotional responses, especially for those in unhappy marriages. Many people have thought about separating for years but do not take action. When they see their friends move forward with their lives, they may be inspired to break free of that sense of stagnation.
In addition, when a friend enjoys new romantic relationships and hobbies, it can show the other possibilities that are available after divorce. People may feel less trapped inside a relationship that isn’t working. However, not everyone considers divorce after watching a friend’s separation. People with healthy, strong marriages reported feeling even closer together in their relationships after a friend’s divorce.
When people watch a friend go through the divorce process, they may still have a lot of questions about the financial and practical side of a split. A family law attorney may work with a divorcing spouse to answer key questions and advocate for major priorities around property division and child custody.