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According to statistics, one in two American marriages end in divorce. There are many reasons for divorce, which can be influenced by age, household income, education, religion or many other factors. Against popular belief, based on data supplied by the U.S. Census Bureau, people in the Bible Belt find the most reasons for divorce at roughly 50 percent above the national average of 4.2 per thousand people.

There are different reasons for divorce used to partially explain geographic differences in the country's divorce rate. Of all 50 states, the state with the lowest divorce rate in the nation is Massachusetts, according to the George Barna Research Group. Explaining the differences between the Bible Belt and Massachusetts and other Northeast states, despite the misconception that states considered “conservative” would have fewer reasons for divorce, are a few factors.

When examining marriages in the South against the state believed to have the lowest number of reasons for divorce, there are a few differences that could weigh in on the differing divorce rates. In the South, more couples will enter their first marriage at a younger age, and the average household incomes in the South are lower. Massachusetts has one of the highest rates of education in the country, and people who stay in school longer subsequently marry at a later age when there is more maturity, better jobs and a higher income increase.

Researchers say that the small drop in the overall divorce rate is caused by a steep decline in the rate among college graduates. The reasons for divorce, relating to education, have expanded between those with and without college degrees as a result, according to Dr. Steven P. Martin, an assistant professor of sociology at the U of Maryland. In a paper not yet published but which has been presented and widely discussed at scientific meetings, Dr. Martin wrote that, “families with highly educated mothers and families with less educated mothers are clearly moving in opposite directions.”

Regardless of the reasons for divorce, studies show broken marriages affect many aspects of life. In addition to the emotional turmoil the divorce can cause, the breakup can cause financial difficulties. When children are involved, the reasons for divorce can affect matters of custody. According to studies, children from single-parent homes more often live in poverty, suffer from behavior problems and do not do as well in school. Because the government believes there are too many reasons for divorce, since 2002, the federal government has set aside $47 million to study and promote marriage in state initiatives.

Just one of the tactics some states have recently tried to integrate, premarital education is becoming more popular. Whether or not premarital education helps resolve issues before tying the knot enough to reduce the number of reasons for divorce later is still debatable, but the scope of premarital education is getting more precise. Most research has shown that premarital education does have an impact on couples before they get married, but there will still always be reasons for divorce unless people continue to pay attention to what they learned, according to some relationship experts.

Divorce rate researchers think that some of the reasons for divorce could be attributed to self-fulfilling explanations. Using that as a partial explanation for the high divorce rates in the 1970s, some researchers think that as people find out recent divorce rates have leveled or begun to fall could also lead to a movement, but in the other direction.

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Issues Regarding Child Custody

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Child custody rights may be shared by both parents or, primary child custody rights may be awarded to one parent or legal guardian. Since the 1970s the family court will award child custody rights contingent with the best interests of the child.

Custody for Fathers

Child custody for fathers following a divorce is one of the most important aspects of a dissolving marriage. Throughout history the legal presumptions about child custody for fathers has changed significantly. Before the twentieth century children were regarded as the property of their father. Under common law, child custody for fathers was commonly awarded, as children were considered a father's rightful property. A major shift occurred after this period in history, as family courts came to favor mothers in child custody cases. It was presumed that under normal circumstances, children did better when placed in the sole custody of their mothers.

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