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Friends of divorced people are more likely to divorce

The results of a recent study suggest that spouses in Georgia and around the country are far more likely to consider ending their own marriages if one of their friends goes through a divorce. Researchers from Harvard University, Brown University and the University of California at San Diego discovered that being friends with a divorced person increases a person's chance of getting divorced by 75 percent. The researchers said that seeing their friends exploring new opportunities and coping on their own often gave spouses inspiration to take action themselves.

However, experts warn spouses not to let unrealistic ideas about the joys of single life to lead them to abandon marriages that have yet to reach the point of no return. They say that couples seeking to avoid divorce or jump-start their marriages should spend at least 16 hours each week giving one another their undivided attention with at least 5 of these hours spent out of the home.

The researchers concluded that a friend's divorce can sometimes provide valuable lessons about the pitfalls of marriage, and they say that discussing with spouses why friends divorced can prompt conversations that have long been avoided. This kind of contagion effect among individuals who are close to one another has also been observed in other studies including research into suicides.

The experiences of friends can also provide examples for how not to deal with the legal aspect of divorce. Friends who behave belligerently during divorce negotiations and become entangled in protracted, expensive and public court battles set a bad example. Experienced family law attorneys may recommend approaching property division and spousal support discussions with an open mind, looking for common ground and considering alternatives to litigation like mediation should traditional approaches fail to produce an amicable agreement.

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