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Do divorced friends in New Jersey lead others to get divorced?

New Jersey residents who know someone who got a divorce may be more likely to choose to end their own marriage. Brown University headed a team of researchers that looked at decades of data on marriage, divorce and remarriage that came from thousands of residents of a small town. The team discovered that people who had a friend who ended their marriage were 75 percent more likely to end their marriage, and 33 percent more likely if a friend of a friend divorced. However, at three degrees of separation, this phenomena was no longer in effect.

Those involved in the study caution that it only looked at a small town, so it may not be representative of the entire country. Still, the results were quite interesting. The average divorce rate for the group was nine percent. If someone had a friend or close family member who divorced, the rate increased to 16 percent, a 75 percent increase. When friends or relatives of someone's family member or close friend divorced, the rate only increased to 12 percent.

The study also found that those who divorced and remarried were more likely to marry someone who had also been divorced, especially if they remarried shortly after ending their previous marriage. Another interesting tidbit is that those who were more popular in their social network, meaning they had more friends, were the least likely to divorce. It is speculated that these individuals have the most robust support system because they have more friends.

Whatever the cause behind a divorce, it is a complicated and emotional time that can make decision making difficult. A lawyer could let someone know what type of issues they are likely to face and provide them with guidance and information to help them throughout the proceedings.

Source: Pew Research Center, "Is divorce contagious?", Rich Morin, October 21, 2013

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