“WHOA, LET’S BACK UP, HOSS….”
From some old common wisdom gained (and forcibly impressed over the years):
“The person you marry at 20 will not be the same person you’re married to at 30.”
We all change over the years; scientists tell us that by replacement of cells, the body you have at 20 (and, presumably your mind as well) will not be the same when you’re 30. And likely your emotional make-up will not be the same either.
Well, some observations from sages past on the institution of marriage.
“Marriage, if one will face the truth, is an evil, but a necessary evil.” – Menander (c. 342-292 B.C.)
The curse of marriage
That we can call these delicate creatures ours
And not their appetites! (Othello 3.3.272-3)
Most people already know that around 50 percent of marriages in the United States end in divorce. The number is similarly high in many other developed nations.
When you break that down by number of marriages (source: CDC.gov):
- 41 percent of first marriages end in divorce
- 60 percent of second marriages end in divorce
- 73 percent of third marriages end in divorce
This graph looks at the age groups of those getting divorced:
Under 20 years old
20 to 24 years old
25 to 29 years old
30 to 34 years old
35 to 39 years old
Divorce Facts – US National
- In America, there is one divorce approximately every 36 seconds*. That’s nearly 2,400 divorces per day, 16,800 divorces per week and 876,000 divorces a year.
- The average length of a marriage that ends in divorce is eight years.
- People wait an average of three years after a divorce to remarry (if they remarry at all).
- The average age for couples going through their first divorce is 30 years old.
- 79.6 percent of custodial mothers receive a support award, while…
- Only 29.6 percent of custodial fathers receive a support award.
- Forty-six point nine percent of non-custodial mothers totally default on support, while…
- Only 26.9 percent of non-custodial fathers totally default on support.
About 1 percent of the total number of currently married same-sex couples gets divorced each year, in comparison to about 2 percent of married straight couples. (Note that the percent of couples that get divorced eventually is 50 percent, but only one or two percent get divorced in a particular year.)
Celebrity Divorce Facts
- Mel and Robyn Gibson’s divorce in 2009 is considered to be the largest celebrity divorce settlement, as Mel paid his ex $425 million.
- The celebrity who has been married and divorced the most is actress Zsa Zsa Gabor, who has been married nine times.
- Britney Spears holds the record for shortest celebrity marriage; her union with friend Jason Alexander lasted only 55 hours before it was annulled.
Statistics on the Likelihood of Divorce
- If your parents are happily married, your risk of divorce decreases by 14 percent.
- People who wait to marry until they are over the age of 25 are 24 percent less likely to get divorced.
- Living together prior to getting married can increase the chance of getting divorced by as much as 40 percent.
- If you’ve attended college, your risk of divorce decreases by 13 percent.
Our 2008 voter data in the US shows that “red” states (states that tend to vote Republican), have higher divorce rates than “blue” states (states that tend to vote Democrat).
The Barna Research Group measured divorce statistics by religion. They found that:
- 29 percent of Baptists are divorced (the highest for a US religious group), while …
- Only 21 percent of atheists / agnostics were divorced (the lowest).
Divorce and Children Statistics
- The divorce rate among couples with children is 40 percent lower than couples without children.
- Forty-three percent of children growing up in America today are being raised without their fathers.
- Seventy-five percent of children with divorced parents live with their mother.
- Twenty-eight percent of children living with a divorced parent live in a household with an income below the poverty line.
Half of all American children will witness the breakup of a parent’s marriage. Of these children, close to half will also see the breakup of a parent’s second marriage.
Divorce Statistics by State and Region
- Oklahoma has the highest overall divorce rate at 13.45. Thirty-two percent of Oklahoma adults who have ever been married have been divorced.
- Arkansas has the second highest rate of divorce in the country at 13.15. The divorce rate for men in Arkansas is the highest in the country at 13.5.
- Alaska’s divorce rate of 13.05 is the third highest. Alaska has the highest divorce rate for women in the country at 16.2.
Overall, people living in Northeastern states have lower marriage and divorce rates. While those in southern states are more likely to get married, they also have higher divorce rates. (Kudos to McKinley Irvin, Family Law Firm in Washington State for compiling the statistics and its commentary)
An August, 2011 report from CNN on divorce in America states:
(CNN) — While the Bible Belt is known for its devotion to traditional values, Southerners don’t do so well on one key family value: They are more likely to get divorced than people living in the Northeast.
Southern men and women had higher rates of divorce in 2009 than their counterparts in other parts of the country: 10.2 per 1,000 for men and 11.1 per 1,000 for women, according to a new report from the U.S. Census Bureau released Thursday.
By comparison, men and women in the Northeast had the lowest rates of divorce, 7.2 and 7.5 per 1,000, which is also lower than the national divorce rate of 9.2 for men and 9.7 for women.
“In the South, there are higher rates of marriage and higher rates of divorce for men and women,” said Diana Elliott, a family demographer with the U.S. Census Bureau and co-author of the new report. “In the Northeast, you have people who are delaying first marriages, and consequently there are lower rates of marriage and lower rates of divorce.”
Of the 14 states reporting divorce rates for men that were much higher than the U.S. average — ranging from 10.0 to 13.5 per 1,000 — most were in the South. They included Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Oklahoma, Tennessee and Texas.
In contrast, men in the Northeast divorced less than the national average. Five of the nine states that had divorce rates for men significantly below the U.S. average — ranging from 6.1 to 8.5 — were the Northeastern states of Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Jersey , New York and Pennsylvania.
The same was true for Southern women. Nine of the 14 states with divorce rates for women above the U.S. average, ranging from 10.7 to 16.2, were in the South. They included Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas and West Virginia.
By comparison, four of the 10 states with below-average divorce rates for women, ranging from 6.0 to 8.9, were in the Northeast: Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania.
A divorced mother of two who grew up in Virginia and is now living in the Atlanta area, Lynn (not her real name) said she knows why her eight-year marriage failed. She and her ex-husband got married after a whirlwind three-month courtship, and she now knows, “You really don’t know somebody after three months.”
She didn’t have a college degree when she got married, although she did eventually graduate from college and is now a teacher.
Lynn said she can see some reasons that Southerners divorce at higher rates than the nation as a whole.
“Where I grew up in Virginia, I saw some of my peers not finishing high school, some not going to college and some not finishing college,” she said. “I saw a lot of people just staying in my hometown, staying in dead-end jobs, just settling, taking very little risk-taking for their careers.”
Youth and lack of education can lead to higher divorce rates, said D’Vera Cohn, a senior writer with the Pew Research Center, who wrote a report on “The States of Marriage and Divorce.” There’s also an interactive map on the website.
“There tend to be higher divorce rates in states where women marry young,” Cohn said. “Education also may play a role. In general, less educated women marry at younger ages than college-educated women, and less educated couples have higher divorce rates.”
Values about premarital sex associated with the Bible Belt and rural America may be encouraging people to marry early, at ages when they are likely to have less education and less income to support a long-lasting marriage, according to Naomi Cahn, law professor at The George Washington University Law School and co-author of “Red Families v. Blue Families: Legal Polarization and the Creation of Culture.”
“There’s a moral crisis in red states that’s produced by higher divorce rates and the disparity between parental values and behavior of young adults,” said Cahn. “There is enormous tension between moral values and actual practices.”
Lawrenceville, New Jersey, resident Jennifer DeBord, a married mother of two girls, made many decisions that could keep her 13-year marriage strong. She finished college, explored different careers, dated a few different men and lived with one boyfriend before figuring out what she wanted in a mate. DeBord and her husband, Jason, who works as a Broadway conductor and musician, both moved to New York City to pursue their careers in the arts.
“Waiting allowed me to find the person who was right for me, not the person who was available,” said DeBord, 42. “In my mother’s time, you married the first person you spent time with. I would have divorced that guy. I had a much better idea of who I was (when I married) at 29 versus who I was at 19.”
It’s ironic that pressure on people to get married early also puts them at higher risk of divorce, said Stephanie Coontz, history and family studies professor at The Evergreen State College in Olympia, Washington, director of research and public education for the Council on Contemporary Families, and author of “Marriage, A History: How Love Conquered Marriage” and other books.
“The very fact that people feel less pressure to get married (in the Northeast) means they can be more selective about who they marry and take their time, ” Coontz said. “They don’t have to rush into it to please parents or avoid stigma of premarital sex.”
Whatever the reasons for the South’s higher divorce rate, Christian author Jonathan Merritt said that church leaders are focusing more on divorce recovery when they should be focusing on preventing divorce.
“The faith community has a twofold responsibility regarding divorce: We need to respond to the divorce epidemic among our own ranks and we need to address the trend among the broader culture,” said Merritt, author of “Green Like God: Unlocking the Divine Plan for Our Planet,” who also ministers at Cross Pointe Church in Duluth, Georgia.
“Marriages and families within faith communities are no healthier than in the rest of society. Faith communities must provide support systems to salvage damaged marriages and resurrect dead marriages.”
Meanwhile, divorce still pushes more women into poverty than men and affects their children, since children are still more likely to live with their mothers (75%) than their fathers (25%), according to the same U.S. Census report.
Some other findings:
• Women divorcing in the past year were more likely than men to be in poverty (22% versus 11%).
• Women divorcing in the past year had less household income than their male counterparts. Of those women, 27% had annual household incomes below $25,000, compared with 17% of divorced men.
• Women who divorced in the past year were more likely to receive public assistance than men (23% versus 15%).
• Children living with a parent divorcing in 2009 were more likely to live in poverty (28%) compared with other children (19%) and more likely to live in a rented home (53%) than other children (36%).
So, statistically, your chances of getting a divorce sometime in your life may be 50/50 or better.
That being the case, the reasonable person, while not contemplating a divorce at present, should keep in mind the possibility of it. In a previous post I covered the prenuptial agreement and given some guidance on prenup enforce-ability in Mississippi.
For the mid- to high-asset divorce in several areas of the State, time would be well spent studying some cases decided by the Mississippi Supreme Court and the Court of Appeals.
Here are just a few (which you can read in their entirety by going to the Mississippi Supreme Court website, among other places):
Hinds County (Jackson, MS)
Dogan v. Dogan, 98 So.3d 1115 (Miss.App. 2012):
The chancellor entered its opinion on April 12, 2011. The parties received joint legal and physical custody of Ann Hamilton, with Ann Hamilton deciding for herself which parent to spend time with when home from college. In addition to paying all of Ann Hamilton’s medical needs and maintaining a life insurance policy benefitting her, David was also ordered to pay $400 per month in child support directly to Ann Hamilton. Ann Hamilton’s college expenses were to be paid from Ann Hamilton’s educational fund if any funds remain, and the trust fund established by her grandfather if she raised her grade-point average to a ” B” average. If these funds were unavailable, David was to be ” solely responsible” for Ann Hamilton’s college expenses.
¶ 7. Using the factors in Ferguson v. Ferguson,639 So.2d 921, 925 (Miss.1994), the chancellor then made an equitable distribution of property. First, the chancellor established the separate estates of both Barbara and David. He found that David had no separate estate. Barbara’s separate estate was as follows: home furnishings— $27,605; jewelry— $12,255; Regions account number 3366— $3,372; Trustmark account number 9106— $22,387; Regions CD number 1616— $10,238.51; First Commercial
CD— $8,177.90; Pershing account number 0315— $4,294; and Pershing account number 0476— $56,295. This totals $144,624.41. Additionally, Barbara has one trust valued at $30,856 and the Thomas L. Carraway Jr. Living Trust (Living Trust) valued at approximately $250,000 to $300,000. Including the trusts, Barbara’s separate estate was valued between $425,480.41 and $475,480.41.
¶ 8. The chancellor then distributed the remaining assets that were defined as marital property. David was awarded the following assets: the Grayhawk home— $61,000; Dogan & Wilkinson LLC— $72,500; wine collection and cooler— $8,000; Regions account number 8390— $385; Regions account number 5526— $985; Regions account number 4797— $778; automobile— $39,035; insurance policies from three different providers— $40,513, $23,506, $3,310; Dogan & Wilkinson LLC 401(k)— $106,664; home furnishings and personal items— $11,930; season tickets for University of Mississippi sporting events— $10,000; and attorney’s fees— $62,000. The chancellor found David’s total assets to be $443,606. Barbara received the following assets: East Manor home— $154,875; Alternatives & Dispute Resolution (ADR)— $3,682; jewelry— $20,095; Regions account number 9486— $761; Regions account number 0033— $362; Community Bank account number 5095— $15,000; automobile— $23,650; David’s Pershing IRA— $72,312; home furnishings— $17,733 and $11,930; Pershing IRA— $38,746; and Pershing SEP— $14,782. Barbara also received six MassMutual insurance policies valued at $0; $49,479; $11,745; $4,240; $3,069; and $2,836. She received a Northwestern Mutual insurance policy valued at $0. Lastly, Barbara received a TransAmerica Life insurance policy valued at $5,539. Her marital estate, not including her separate estate, was valued at $450,836.
¶ 9. After much discussion regarding David’s potentially fluctuating income, the chancellor determined that David’s gross monthly income was $19,000. Barbara’s monthly income was determined to be $648 with a gross earning capacity of $3,500 per month. Barbara was awarded $2,000 per month in rehabilitative alimony for sixty months and permanent periodic alimony of $2,000 per month. The final judgment of divorce was entered on April 14, 2011. Barbara filed a motion to alter or amend the judgment or, in the alternative, a motion for a new trial. The chancellor held a hearing on Barbara’s motions on June 15, 2011, and on June 29, 2011, he denied her motions.
Madison County (Ridgeland, Madison, Canton) Mississippi:
Jenkins v. Jenkins, 60 So.3d 198 (Miss. App. 2011):
Johnny M. Jenkins and Kathryn Martello Jenkins agreed to a divorce based on irreconcilable differences. The MadisonCountyChancery Court’s resolution of two disputed issues are central to this appeal. Kathryn claims the chancellor erred by assigning her the entire balance of the debt from one credit card. Kathryn’s second issue on appeal involves the chancellor’s distribution of Kathryn and Johnny’s jointly owned business. The chancellor found that Kathryn had dissipated marital assets through her gambling losses at casinos. The chancellor then deducted Kathryn’s dissipation of assets from Kathryn’s share of the business and awarded Kathryn a judgment for that amount. The chancellor ordered Johnny to pay Kathryn in monthly installments. The chancellor further held that Kathryn could assert a lien against the business’s real property or ” take any other collection remedies provided by law” if Johnny missed a monthly payment. According to Kathryn, the chancellor erred by restricting her rights as a judgment debtor. After careful consideration, we affirm the chancellor’s judgment as it pertains to allocation of the credit-card debt. However, we reverse that portion of the chancellor’s judgment that operates as a restriction of Kathryn’s rights as a judgment debtor and render that portion of the chancellor’s judgment void.
Rankin County (Brandon, Pearl), Mississippi:
Shaw v. Shaw, 985 So.2d 346 (Miss. App. 2007):
Mrs. Shaw also claims that since Mr. Shaw failed to disclose his 401K asset, under Kalman v. Kalman,905 So.2d 760 (Miss.Ct.App.2004), he violated Rule 8.05, which requires a detailed and truthful disclosure, and he should be sanctioned for contempt. In Kalman, the husband won $2.6 million in the Ohio state lottery which he failed to disclose, and the Court reversed and remanded for determination of contempt in light of Rule 8.05. We did not, however, state that every failure to file an 8.05 or inaccuracies in an 8.05 financial statement would always justify a citation for contempt. “A citation for contempt is determined upon the facts of each case and is a matter for the trier of fact.” Kalman, 905 So.2d at 762(¶ 9). A citation is proper when “the contemnor has willfully and deliberately ignored the order of the court.” Id. at 762(¶ 10) (quoting Bredemeier v. Jackson,689 So.2d 770, 777 (Miss.1997)). As we have upheld the chancellor’s finding that Mr. Shaw did not commit fraud either upon the court or upon Mrs. Shaw, we similarly find that the chancellor did not err in determining that a contempt citation against Mr. Shaw was not warranted. We note that it is correct that “Uniform Chancery Court Rule 8.05 requires each party to a ‘domestic case involving economic issues’ to provide a detailed financial statement to the court.” Bland v. Bland,629 So.2d 582, 587 (Miss.1993).“It is also true that the court may, pursuant to Rule 8.05, excuse such a requirement.” Id.
¶ 7. While we agree that a 401K account is subject to equitable division, we find that, in this instance, its existence was mentioned in the unsigned Rule 8.05 financial statement and could have easily been followed up on by Mrs. Shaw prior to her entering into the property settlement agreement. Therefore, we affirm the chancery court’s judgment finding that Mr. Shaw did not commit fraud against the court or Mrs. Shaw.
Lee, Prentiss, Monroe, Itawamba, Alcorn, Pontotoc Counties (Tupelo, Booneville, Corinth, Fulton, Aberdeen, Pontotoc—all in the First Judicial District) Mississippi:
Fleishhacker v. Fleishhacker, 39 So.3d 904 (Miss. App. 2009):
Patricia and Walter Fleishhacker were married on January 3, 1981. They separated on February 3, 2001, after Patricia learned that Walter had an affair with another woman. No children were born to the parties. Patricia and Walter lived a very comfortable and affluent lifestyle. Prior to 1981, Walter purchased a twenty-five percent interest in the stock of Northeast Metal Processing, Inc. (” NMP” ). NMP is a successful scrap metal business that is located near Tupelo, Mississippi. NMP was the Fleishhackers’ primary source of income throughout their marriage. In 1993, Walter bought the remaining seventy-five percent of NMP’s stock. Thus, he became the sole stockholder of NMP. On April 4, 1996, Walter conveyed an interest in the NMP stock to Patricia. The stock certificates were then titled to, ” Walter Fleishhacker and Patricia Fleishhacker as joint tenants with rights of survivorship.” On the same day, Walter and Patricia executed an agreement that related to the stock ownership of NMP. The terms of the agreement will be discussed in detail later.
¶ 6. On April 1, 2004, Patricia filed her complaint for divorce. On April 19, 2004, Walter filed his answer and cross-complaint for divorce.
1. Did the chancellor err in the valuation and division of the NMP, Inc., stock?
¶ 10. The chancellor determined that Walter owned twenty-five percent of the stock in NMP ” at the time of the marriage of the parties and further [found] these items to be separate property of [Walter] and thus not marital assets.”
¶ 11. Patricia claims this was error, and she makes two separate arguments. First, Patricia claims that the chancellor erred by determining that twenty-five percent of NMP’s stock was Walter’s non-marital separate property because Walter commingled the property during the marriage. Hence, Patricia claims that one hundred percent of the value of NMP should be subject to equitable division. Second, Patricia argues that even if the chancellor was correct to determine that twenty-five percent of NMP’s stock was Walter’s non-marital separate property, the chancellor erred by valuing the separate interest as of the date of the temporary order rather than the date of the parties’ marriage. Walter argues that the chancellor was correct on both of these issues. We find that the chancellor was correct in his determination of the first argument, but we also find that the chancellor committed reversible error on the second argument.
¶ 12. The Mississippi Supreme Court has established guidelines that must be followed for the equitable division of assets. Ferguson v. Ferguson,639 So.2d 921, 928 (Miss.1994). Likewise, the court has established guidelines for an award of periodic alimony and an award of lump-sum alimony. Armstrong v. Armstrong,618 So.2d 1278, 1280 (Miss.1993) (periodic alimony); Cheatham v. Cheatham,537 So.2d 435, 438 (Miss.1988) (lump-sum alimony).
¶ 13. Equitable division of assets begins with the chancellor’s classification of assets as marital versus non-marital. Hemsley v. Hemsley,639 So.2d 909, 914-15 (Miss.1994). In Hemsley, the supreme court held:
We define marital property for the purpose of divorce as being any and all property acquired or accumulated during the marriage. Assets so acquired or accumulated during the course of the marriage are marital assets and are subject to an equitable distribution by the chancellor. We assume for divorce purposes that the contributions and efforts of the marital partners, whether economic, domestic or otherwise are of equal value.
- at 915. Thus, Hemsley required the chancellor to consider: (a) the assets acquired or accumulated during the marriage as marital assets, and (b) Patricia’s domestic contributions and efforts were equal in value to Walter’s economic contributions and efforts.
THE BOY SCOUT MOTTO IS “BE PREPARED.”
This sage advice is true in many areas of life, and is certainly true for the married and about-to-be-married. As the French say (and bride and groom should be told on wedding day)—
EN GARDE !!!