What Indicators Lead to Divorce?

Believe it or not, divorce is considered to be a major health problem. While doctors can predict the risk for major health issues such as diabetes, cancer and heart attack, they now are trying to predict the risk for divorce which accounts for 50 percent of U.S. marriages.

The breakdown of a marriage can play havoc on one’s emotional and physical health. People in troubled relationships are more likely to suffer from anxiety, depression and high blood pressure. Historically, the medical profession has had little advice for preventing divorce but now there is plenty of new research out that helps scientists discern what qualities lead to a lasting marriage or a divorce. For instance, eye-rolling after a spouse’s comment can be a strong indicator for divorce whereas, marriages with traditional gender roles are indicative of long-lasting marriages.

Some of the findings, while they may seem obvious, run counter to the way many marital counselors work, and thus, could force counselors to rethink their whole approach to couple’s therapy.

John Gottman, a psychology professor at the University of Washington and a leading divorce-prediction researcher (www.gottman.com), has videotaped thousands of couples and codes positive and negative facial expressions, body language and comments. He and his colleagues have calculated that successful marriages have at least a five-to-one ratio of positive to negative interactions. When the ratio drops, the marriage becomes high risk for divorce.

While it is not logistically possible in real life to tally the positive and negative displays, therapists say it’s important to ramp up the positives after a negative occurs so the ratio doesn’t dip to dangerous levels. The strongest predictors of divorce are four negative qualities: contempt, criticism, defensiveness and stonewalling. And couples should be aware of subtle negative facial expressions.

Half of all marriages end in the first seven years but a study in Family Process claims that another risky time for divorce is midlife. The study followed 79 Bloomington, Ind., couples that had been married for an average of five years. Four years after the research started, 9% had divorced and by the end of the 14-year study, 22 couples, or 28% had divorced.

It has been shown that “active listening,” a traditional counseling method, doesn’t work because the spouse would just repeat the complaint and say, “I hear what you’re saying.” Happily married couples don’t respond that way. They take a gentler approach to starting a conversation and if an argument escalates, they know how to end it and repair the damage.

Traditional counseling will also have a couple give up their idealized view of relationships and romance but this has been shown to be the contrary: People with the highest expectations for marriage have the highest quality marriages.

Another predictor of divorce has to do with the influence the wife has on the decision making process. In marriages at high risk for divorce, the wife has little to no influence over her husband.

Age can be another risk factor. There is a divorce risk for women who marry younger men but men can marry younger women without any risk factor.

Another huge factor has to do with having children. Studies show that marital satisfaction drops by 70% in the first few years of having a child but later helps the couple to stay married.

And finally, some marital arguments can’t be solved. One study interviewed a couple and came back four years later to find that the couple was still arguing about the same problems in exactly the same way. This has led to what is called “acceptance” therapy which encourages couples to accept the minor weaknesses of their partners instead of trying to change them.

No one wants to go through a divorce, however if you are facing that situation, Accessible Legal Services can help.  Call 501-620-4242.

Source: Can Eye-Rolling Ruin a Marriage? Researches Study Divorce Risk, By Tara Parker-Pope, The Wall Street Journal

Record Expungement and Financial Aid

Many individuals in our nation aspire to earn a college degree and pursue higher education as a starting point towards a high paying and successful career.  In 1998, Congress enacted and amended the Higher Education Act (HEA), which prevented thousands of would-be college students from receiving federal financial assistance if they had a drug related conviction.  Since the law was enacted, one in every four hundred students who apply to receive financial aid will be denied based on a prior drug related conviction.

Those who are affected by this unfortunate reality will often never have the opportunity to receive federal financial aid unless they expunge the prior offense from their record.

How can you tell if your conviction will affect your ability to obtain financial aid?  The Federal Student Aid department has a FAFSA Drug Conviction Worksheet which will let you determine whether you will have a problem obtaining financial aid.

For those who are convicted of a drug related crime, you are eligible to expunge your record.  At Accessible Legal Service, Inc., we have a wealth of experience working with potential students that need to seal or expunge their past offenses in order to get financial assistance.  If you need to speak to an attorney about expunging your criminal record, please contact us at 501-620-4242.

Traveling to the Country

It’s never a dull moment in the life of a nonprofit lawyer.  We tend to end up doing things on a daily basis that a typical attorney would never get even dream of doing!  I am helping a client start a new nonprofit.  When she scheduled the first board meeting, she asked me to attend; however, the board meeting was being held at her house.  Her house ended up being an hour away and was located 6 miles down a dirt road.

Once I finally arrived at her house, I found that her house was FILLED with taxidermied animals, and most of the animals were shot on her property.  It turned out to be a good board meeting, but those stuffed animals took me by surprise.  I must admit!