An oft-used joke among comedians goes something like this: “Do you know why more women file for divorce than men? Because women know murder is illegal.” While not all that funny, in fact women do initiate divorces more often than men, for a variety of reasons. Sociologist William Goode discovered in 1956 that among couples in the city of Detroit, (who had gone through a divorce in the 1940’s), the wife initiated nearly 67 percent of those divorces. Since that time, despite changes in attitudes toward marriage, many changes in gender relations, and advancements in women’s rights, this conclusion has been repeated time after time after time.
Women are More Likely to Initiate a Divorce, but Both Genders Initiate Dating Breakups
Similar patterns of women-initiated divorces exist in Australia and Europe as well, although men are playing catch-up in the U.K. In 2009, sociologist Michael Rosenfeld added to the analysis of which sex is more likely to initiate a divorce. Rosenfeld added dating couples into his equations, following up with married and dating couples every year until 2015. Over the course of the study, 371 of the couples (out of 2,538), either broke up or got divorced. When talking divorce, sure enough, the women in the study initiated the divorce 69 percent of the time. Among those couples who were dating, then broke up during the study, it was almost equally split as far as whether the man or the woman initiated the breakup.
Are Men More Complacent in Their Married Life than Women?
According to Rosenfeld, the reason more women ask for divorces than men is that men are more likely than women to be “content” when they get married, as well as the fact that “there is a certain degree of male privilege and expectation that comes with marriage.” Rosenfeld notes that even in today’s society, a man may, at least secretly, imagine the bulk of the housework will be done by his wife and that she will be the primary caregiver for the children. In other words, men may have a good thing going, and they aren’t in a hurry to give it up. Since women actually do tend to do more shopping, cooking, cleaning and child care than men do, the lifestyle change experienced by those men will likely be much greater than the woman’s. This makes them complacent in their married life, and unlikely to leave, unless forced to.
Women Less Likely to Settle, More Sensitive to Problems in the Relationship
Other researchers believe that women are simply more vulnerable to problems in the relationship, since married women typically report less marital satisfaction than their husbands (20 percent of women said they had thought of leaving their partner within the last year while only 13 percent of married men said they had thought of leaving their partner within the last year). And even though women are fully aware they may take the greater financial hit when their marriage crumbles, they are willing to do so in order to get out of a marriage which they consider unfulfilling.
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A Culture Which Romantically Idealizes Marriage Leaves Women Unfulfilled
Although cheating husbands may certainly be a factor among women who choose to divorce, one author believes the primary reason women are more likely to initiate divorce has less to do with cheating and more to do with an unwillingness to settle. Popular culture encourages young women to romantically idealize marriage. When college students were asked whether they had ever fantasized in detail about their wedding day, 80 percent of the female students said yes, while only about 10 percent of the male students admitted to wedding day fantasies. So, while a young woman sees marriage as romantic fulfillment, a young man may see it more as the end of his freedom.
Men’s Expectations Fulfilled, While Women’s Are Not
When a woman fails to find that everlasting fulfillment she is looking for, she may decide to end the marriage, however men actually received more of what they expected—they “settled down.” And, while a woman is more likely to express her dissatisfaction about the marriage—and her husband could certainly feel troubled about that dissatisfaction—the husband is more likely to be “ok” with the way things are. In short, a man isn’t expecting constant sunshine, roses and romance, he is only expecting to settle down and have less personal freedom. So, the man actually get what he expected. A woman, on the other hand may expect the spine-tingling romance to continue, not only for a few months after the wedding, but forever. She probably did not get what she expected.
Factors Associated With Divorce
And yes, spousal infidelity is an issue for the end of many marriages. In fact, cheating is the most-cited reason for divorce. Among both genders, the following are the reasons couples divorce:
- Spouse unresponsive to the other’s needs;
- One spouse grew tired of making the marriage work;
- One spouse thought the other was immature;
- One spouse felt he or she was being emotionally abused;
- Spouses had different financial priorities or spending habits, and
- Alcohol and drug abuse by one spouse.
- One spouse wanted to pursue a different life;
- One spouse found out unknown revelations from the other’s past;
- One or both spouses felt they married too young;
- One spouse physically abused the other;
- One spouse’s career came before family;
- There were insurmountable cultural or religious differences between the spouses;
- One or both spouses had problems with the other’s family, or
- One spouse was addicted to pornography.
Other Reasons Women Initiate Divorce
When you consider that women are better educated, and more career-oriented than ever before, perhaps it is not so surprising that they feel more empowered to leave marriages which make them miserable. Many women are more financially independent and secure in their ability to support themselves and their children. It is also worthwhile to note that there is much less stigma attached to divorce than there was in the past, plus the “no-fault” divorce has changed the way divorce is handled from a legal standpoint.
No-fault divorce does away with the blame game, thus changes societal attitudes about finding one spouse at fault for the divorce. No-fault divorce means that neither spouse is required to air their personal marital problems to the world. There is also a change in how society sees the divorced woman—not as a person to be pitied, sentenced to a lifetime of loneliness and depression, but as a strong woman who left an untenable situation for a presumably happier life.
Equitable Compensation for Homemaker Contributions
So now you know why women tend to initiate a divorce much more often than men, perhaps you are a woman who also wants to know just how to get your fair share during your Florida divorce—particularly if you were a stay-at-home mom or homemaker during the bulk of your marriage. Unfortunately, far too many divorcing women have been shocked to find the years they spent maintaining a household and raising children now appears to count for little when the assets are being split. While this has changed slowly over the past couple of decades, you may still find yourself in the unenviable position of proving your non-financial contributions were equally important to the overall financial picture during your marriage.
Women who live in a community property state might actually have an easier time getting a fair share of the marital assets than women who life in an equitable distribution state, such as Florida. In a community property state, the assets are split down the middle regardless of which spouse worked outside the home. While equitable distribution states, like Florida, do view marriage as a joint economic enterprise, the homemaker may be forced to show how her non-economic contributions actually made it possible for the husband to work. Your contributions will need to be established, then translated into a specific economic value. There are two ways Florida courts can accomplish this. One way the calculations are made is known as the replacement cost approach, while the other is the opportunity cost approach.
Replacement Cost Homemaker Contributions
If you are advised by your attorney to go with the replacement cost approach, then you will analyze every single task you regularly perform as a homemaker, then the applicable wage rate in your area will be applied for each service. As an example, assuming you care for the children, do laundry, shop for groceries, cook, mow the lawn, and pay the bills, each task would be assigned the number of hours per week the task is performed, then multiplied by the going rate for that task. So, assuming you spend ten hours each week cleaning the house, and the average rate for cleaning services in your area is $16 per hour, then $640 would be added for your cleaning services. Every task would be broken down in the same way.
Homemaker Contributions in an Opportunity Cost Approach
Should your Ayo and Iken attorney use the opportunity cost approach, it will be calculated based on the idea that if you had worked outside the home you would have made a specific salary, based on your education and experience. Therefore, if there existed an identifiable occupation which you could have reasonably pursued—had you not chosen to become a homemaker—then the amount of money you would have earned will be factored into the final calculations when splitting up assets. Obviously if you gave up a thriving career as a brain surgeon in order to be a homemaker, then this would be the better approach to determine your contributions. In other cases, the replacement approach might be more to your advantage. Then there is the question of spousal support. Of all the states in the U.S., a Florida court is probably most likely to award spousal support, and, in many cases, make that support permanent.
Spousal Support in the State of Florida
Many believe Florida’s spousal support laws are nothing short of antiquated. Despite the fact that Florida, like most states, has embraced no-fault divorce, it appears societal norms and attitudes from an earlier era abound in the state, when it comes to spousal support. Scores of Florida men are currently paying permanent spousal support, despite the fact that spousal support was intended to allow a reasonable transition period for a lower-earning spouse to achieve independence. Consider the fact that an award of permanent spousal support, in essence, forces divorced couples to remain financially entangled forever. The spouse paying alimony may not be able to retire because of the continued burden of spousal support. The current types of spousal support in the state of Florida include:
- A fixed amount of spousal support which is paid to the lower-earning spouse for a specific period of time is known as rehabilitative spousal support.
- A lump sum amount of spousal support may be ordered under certain circumstances, although this type of spousal support has the drawback of negative tax consequences.
- Permanent spousal support may be ordered for an “indefinite” period of time; in order to alter this type of support, the court must be petitioned for a change and the petitioner must have compelling reasons for the change.
For marriages of especially short duration, the court may determine that both spouses have the same ability to support themselves as they had prior to the marriage. For marriages which extend beyond five years there are a variety of factors the courts will consider when making the determination of spousal support. These factors include:
- Disparities in earning capacity between the spouses;
- The physical and mental health of the spouse petitioning for spousal support;
- The property and debts received by each spouse in the divorce;
- The contributions made by both spouses to the marriage (including homemaker contributions);
- The duration of the marriage, and
- The earning capacity of each spouse.
There are many more issues men and women in the state of Florida must deal with during a divorce. Whether the man or the woman initiates the divorce, both must begin new lives, and, if there are children, find a way to exist in harmony with the other parent. If you are contemplating divorce, it could be extremely beneficial to speak with a knowledgeable Ayo and Iken divorce attorney as soon as possible.