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More women initiate divorce; rates rising for older couples

Now that we are 13 years into the 21st century, enough data has been generated to establish marriage and divorce statistics over the last decade or so. There are several trends that have emerged. First, fewer people are choosing to get married which has led to a corresponding drop in divorce rates. Researchers think many are choosing to live together in long-term relationships rather than get married. Also, women have been found to initiate two-thirds of all divorces which is likely related to domestic abuse or no longer needing to rely on a man for financial stability. Lastly, data suggests that grey divorces, divorces between older couples, are on the rise.

While the number of divorces may be declining, the fact remains that many divorces are filed each year in Maryland. The dissolution of a marriage can be a trying time that is full of heated disputes and emotional encounters. Older couples may have a significant amount of property to divide and child support, visitation, and alimony may all be contested. When parties to a divorce cannot come to an agreement about these issues, a judge may be left to decide for them. This may not be in either party's best interests.

Divorcing couples have another option when it comes to settling their affairs: divorce mediation. Under mediation, a neutral mediator assists the parties in reaching an agreement about their contested divorce issues. Since the mediator is neutral, each party is typically advised to have his or her own attorney present at the dispute resolution.

The benefits of mediation are far reaching. The two parties can hear what is fair from an unbiased third party, the couple avoids the airing of their issues in front of a court and each party has the power to ratify the agreement unlike when a judge makes a final determination. For these reasons, if those facing a divorce cannot come to an agreement on their own accord regarding contested issues, then mediation should be considered.

Source: Forbes, "Not Your Mother's Divorce: Three 21st Century Trends," Jeff Landers, June 20, 2013

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