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Divorce Rates Fall as Couples Acclimate to Two-Income Model

Divorce rates in the U.S. began to rise exponentially in the postwar era - especially during the 1970s - at a time when divorce laws were being changed and women began to enter the workforce. Even today, most estimate that roughly half of all marriages will end in divorce. But, even as divorce appears so prevalent in the U.S., divorce rates are actually dropping.

Marriage and Divorce in the Past

In an interview with CNBC, Betsy Stevenson, an assistant professor at the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School of Business, stated that in the 1950s and 1960s marriages were based on the model in which women specialized in home-making and men worked.

However, as woman began working themselves, "we started transitioning to marriages with less stark specialization, but many people married the right person for the old model of marriage - which was the wrong person for the new two-earner marriage," Stevenson told CNBC.

In past decades, it wasn't commonplace for women to be in the workforce, let alone the breadwinners in the marriage. In fact, in 1969 in relationships where one person brought home 60 percent or more of total household earnings, only 4 percent of situations was the larger earner a woman, according to a statement to CNBC by Suzanne Doyle-Morris, author of "Female Breadwinners: How They Make Relationships Work and Why They are the Future of the Modern Workplace." Doyle-Morris now says this number has now risen to about 25 to 30 percent of these relationships.

Doyle-Morris, also believes divorce rates are falling because of improved education and people waiting longer to get married. In support of this position is the fact that the average age of a person's first marriage was 20-years-old for woman and 23-years-old for men back in 1950 - but has risen to 26 and 28 respectively in 2009, according to the Census Bureau.

Unfortunately, even with these slightly declining rates, divorces are still occurring in large numbers, which makes it of vital importance to know your rights and options if you are currently going through a divorce.

Source: CNBC, "As Two-Income Family Model Matures, Divorce Rate Falls," David Milstead, May 7, 2012

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