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In United States poorer couples find long term separation a better option than divorce

Study finds that disadvantaged are priced out of divorce

Married couples who undergo long-term separations appear to be those who cannot afford to divorce, researchers in the United States have found.

Ohio State University has published a report which finds that about 80 percent of all respondents who went through a marital separation ultimately divorced, most within three years. About 5 percent attempted to reconcile. However, reconciliation after separation is often unsuccessful, the study found half of those who reconciled were no longer married as of 2008.

Fifteen per cent of separations did not lead to divorce or reconciliation within 10 years. Couples in these long-term separations tended to be racial and ethnic minorities, have low family income and education, and have young children.

Long-term separation seems to be the low-cost, do-it-yourself alternative to divorce for many disadvantaged couples," said Dmitry Tumin, co-author of the study and a doctoral student in sociology at Ohio State University.

"Separation may not be their first choice, but they may feel it is their best choice."

Tumin conducted the study with Zhenchao Qian, professor of sociology at Ohio State. The study involved 7,272 people from across the United States.
People who divorced immediately were similar to people who separated first before divorcing, but people who separated and did not divorce had very different profiles, the researchers found.

Almost 75 percent of those who remained separated, or who separated and then reunited, were black or Hispanic. Those who remained separated were more likely than those who divorced to have a high school or lower education.

"In every measure we had, including family background, income and education, those who remain separated are more disadvantaged than those who end up divorcing," Qian said.

Compared to people who divorce, those who separated without divorcing also tended to have more children, the study found. This may also be related to their disadvantage.

For more details of the research study, visit the Ohio State University website.