Claudette-Jean Girard, Attorney at Law
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I provide experienced legal guidance in family law, divorce and special education law. I represent parents and families throughout western Massachusetts.

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Separation or divorce? Massachusetts may be interested in stats

A new study that may be of interest to readers in Massachusetts indicates that fewer couples are choosing to separate prior to divorce. However, of those that do decide to separate before seeking divorce, around 80 percent end up dissolving their marriage. Another 5 percent appear to try to reconcile, and the remaining 15 percent of couples remain married but separated.

The reasons that couples separate but remain married appear to be varied but revolve largely around economic concerns. Couples with young children may decide to remain married because of the financial difficulties that can be faced when raising kids after divorce. In addition, researchers suspect that the difficult economy may have led some couples to remain married longer than they may have otherwise in better economic times. It appears that many who remain separated but not divorced also have lower incomes and educational levels.

The study in this case began in 1979 and follows the lives of a representative sampling of those who live in our country. It is being conducted by a major university in association with the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Of those who participated in the study, 49 percent left their first marriages. Of those who left their first marriage, 60 percent separated prior to divorce. For those who separated and then divorced, the average time between the two events was three years, whereas for couples who later reconciled it was only two years.

This interesting information may offer clues into the reasons that people in Massachusetts and across the country decide to remain in a marriage without getting a divorce. When a couple decides to end their marriage, it may be beneficial for them to seek advice and counsel, regardless of their financial concerns. Going through the motions of deciding support or custody of children, who gets what, etc. can be difficult when the right channels are not utilized to protect the rights of both parties. Whether couples consider a separation or divorce, having the right system of support can ensure that the outcome is equitable and successful.

Source:, "Marital separations an alternative to divorce for poor couples," Aug. 19, 2012

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