When Illinois couples divorce, they generally consider it a matter that primarily affects themselves and perhaps their immediate family, particularly any children of the marriage. However, the social effects of divorce could resonate far outside the boundaries of the family. In fact, divorce can be “contagious” in a friend group or social circle. While some may think such beliefs are only based on anecdotal evidence, research conducted by social scientists at Brown University, Harvard University and the University of California at San Diego backs up this phenomenon.
According to one study, people with friends who recently divorced are 75 percent more likely to seek a divorce themselves. However, the effect goes further in a social circle. People with friends of friends who divorce are 33 percent more likely to end their marriages. There are a number of factors that could contribute to this type of trend. Many people remain in an unhappy marriage due to a sense of inertia. When a friend takes action to change his or her situation, it can inspire others to make a move.
The effect is so frequently noted that some divorced people say that their married friends avoid them during the divorce process, especially those with marital conflicts of their own. On the other hand, stronger couples can find that friends’ divorces pose no threat at all to their relationship and may actually inspire them to renew their intimacy and sense of connection.
When people watch a friend go through a divorce, they also witness the legal and financial sides of the end of a marriage. This can lead to many questions as a result. A family law attorney can consult with a soon-to-be ex-spouse about the potential impacts of issues like property division, alimony and child custody on the eventual outcome.