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Fwd: Why Most Divorce Filers Are Women - New Look at Realities of Divorce

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  • Tom Smith
    ... The following article is now available fyi: American Journal of Law and Economics Vol 2, No 1, 2000 (pp126-169) These Boots Are Made for Walking: Why Most
    Message 1 of 1 , Feb 1 12:26 AM
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      --- In ms-discussion@y..., Lindsay Jackel <jackel@m...> wrote:
      The following article is now available fyi:

      American Journal of Law and Economics
      Vol 2, No 1, 2000 (pp126-169)
      "These Boots Are Made for Walking: Why Most Divorce Filers Are Women,"
      Margaret F. Brinig, College of Law, University of Iowa, and
      Douglas Allen, Department of Economics, Simon Fraser University

      This article/report can be accessed at:


      or at


      It is a relevant and worthwhile read.

      It has not been sent as an attachment because it is 186Kb in size.


      The following article, in the NYT, reported on the above article on
      11 July



      fwd fyi...


      The New York Times
      11 July 2000


      "The correlation with custody is so strong ... that the best way to
      preserve marriages and protect children ... is to rewrite custody

      New Look at Realities of Divorce
      By John Tierney

      Which sex is mostly to blame for divorce? The answer seems obvious
      time a mogul like Donald Trump or Ronald Perelman or Rupert Murdoch
      his wife.

      Conservative preachers and liberal feminists are united in their
      for philandering men who abandon their children. Journalists
      this one) and politicians of all persuasions have righteously
      "deadbeat dads." Even Hollywood professes to be appalled at the cads
      depicted in "The First Wives Club."

      But there's a problem with the conventional wisdom. Across America,
      least two-thirds of divorce suits are filed by women. Researchers
      who have
      interviewed divorcing couples have repeatedly found that, in cases
      the divorce is not mutually desired, women are more than twice as
      likely to
      be the ones who want out. After the split, women are typically
      than their exes.

      This trend has inspired what is probably the first paper in the
      Journal of Law and Economics ever to be named after a Nancy Sinatra
      In "These Boots Are Made for Walking: Why Most Divorce Filers Are
      Margaret F. Brinig and Douglas Allen, both economists, analyze all
      divorces filed in one year, 1995, in four different states:
      Virginia, Montana and Oregon.

      They looked for different reasons that would prompt a woman to file
      divorce. One would be to escape an abusive husband - like a man who is
      adulterous or violent. But in the state with the best records of
      grievances, Virginia, only 6 percent of divorces were granted on
      grounds of
      violence, and husbands were cited for adultery only slightly more
      than wives.

      "Some women file for divorce because they're exploited in really bad
      marriages," said Dr. Brinig, a professor of law at the University of
      "But it seems to be a relatively small number, probably less than 20
      percent of the cases."

      Another impetus to divorce is the belief that your partner is no
      good enough for you. The classic example is the guy who takes a
      wife after dumping the high-school sweetheart who sacrificed her own
      potential to put him through medical school, but a woman can be
      tempted to leave a husband who is less successful than she is.

      The researchers found that the better-educated partner, male or
      female, was
      indeed more likely to file for divorce. But again these types of
      seemed to represent less than 20 percent of the cases.

      The solution to the mystery, the factor that determined most cases,
      out to be the question of child custody. Women are much more willing
      split up because -- unlike men -- they typically do not fear losing
      of the children. Instead, a divorce often enables them to gain
      over the children.

      "The question of custody absolutely swamps all the other variables,"
      Brinig said. "Children are the most important asset in a marriage,
      and the
      partner who expects to get sole custody is by far the most likely to
      for divorce."

      The correlation with custody is so strong, Dr. Brinig said, that she
      changed her view about the best way to preserve marriages and protect
      children. She previously advocated an end to quick no-fault
      divorces, but
      she now believes that the key is to rewrite custody laws.

      In most states, including New York, New Jersey and Connecticut,
      mothers can
      fight for and usually win sole custody. But some states have recently
      begun making joint custody the presumptive norm.

      That change in the law seems to be keeping more couples together,
      to this study and other work by Dr. Brinig. She and colleagues have
      a decline in divorce in states with joint-custody laws. And when
      do divorce, fathers who share custody are less likely to renege on
      child-support payments.

      Dr. Brinig favors a law like the one recently enacted in West
      which typically awards each parent a share of custody according to
      how much
      time that parent spent with the child during the marriage. Besides
      eliminating some of the vicious court fights that now take place over
      custody, she said, such a law could lead to fewer divorces.

      "Custody is now a way - in some marriages the only way - for women to
      achieve a real show of force over men," Dr. Brinig said. "If you
      that distortion, it's apt to change the way men and women relate to
      other and to their kids. Fathers are likely to spend more time with
      kids if
      they can expect to still see them if the marriage doesn't work out.
      will be more likely to see men as parenting partners, and less likely
      use divorce as a power play."
      --- End forwarded message ---
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