Social Networks: Is Divorce Contagious?

Posted by Steven D. Eversole | May 02, 2014 | 0 Comments

Have you been seriously considering divorce since a friend, relative, or neighbor has gone through the process? Has your husband or wife filed divorce in the wake of another divorce in your social circle? According to a recent study, this trend reflects evidence that “divorce is contagious” and that the divorce of a friend or other loved one increases your own chances of facing a divorce as well. The Brown University study assessed divorce patterns and found that 75 percent of subjects were more likely to divorce if a friend was divorced. Another 33 percent were more likely to put an end to their marriage if a loved one also went through a divorce.


The study may mean that we are more likely to pursue our options after watching a friend or loved one go through the process. Perhaps we see a positive outcome or can even reflect on our own situation more honestly after a loved one or friend goes through a divorce. OurBirmingham divorce attorneys understand how difficult it is when making the decision to end a marriage. We are also dedicated to providing comprehensive and strategic support to individuals who want to protect their rights before, during, and after a divorce is finalized.

Researchers are naming the phenomena a “social contagion” that could be tied to social media and the quick spread of information, which may change the personal beliefs and shift actions of those closest to us. While divorce itself may not be contagious, feelings, beliefs, and emotions can be, according to psychotherapists. In a world where information is transmitted quickly by Facebook, texting, and other media outlets, we are more commonly aware of others private lives, issues, and their resolution. How someone else chooses to resolve their individual problems may trigger the same response for others in the same social network.

Divorce is, of course, a very individualized situation and every couple will come to the decision to divorce for different reasons. When a friend or relative is going through divorce, we may also experience the same emotions, become empathetic, and relate to the pain they are going through. This may cause us to scrutinize our own relationships. The study is not without its naysayers. According to some married couples, a divorcing couple should have no influence on other friends, relatives, neighbors or colleagues. Individuals who don't want to catch “the bug” should remember not to associate too much or compare relationships with a couple that is entering the divorce process.

This study looked at thousands of couples over the course of three decades. In addition to finding that couples who associated with divorced couples were more likely to divorce, also found that divorce removed by three degrees of separation, was not going to have an impact on another couple. Regardless, the study may show just how much we may look to our loved ones for support and understanding during the divorce process. If you are considering divorce, it is important to have a solid network to guide you through the process. In addition to friends and relatives, an experienced advocate can help you identify your objectives, navigate the legal system and protect your rights in an divorce.

Contact Birmingham divorce and family law attorney Steven Eversole at (866) 831-5292.

About the Author

Steven D. Eversole

J.D., Samford University's Cumberland School of Law, Birmingham, Alabama B.A., University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa, Alabama


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