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Marriages increase as divorce rates fall

Divorce rates in Missouri and around the country fell to a near 40-year low in 2015 according to a report released Nov. 17 by Bowling Green University's National Center for Family and Marriage Research. Another NCFMR report reveals that the number of marriages for each 1,000 unmarried women increased from 31.9 in 2014 to 32.2 in 2015. The researchers say these findings suggest that marriage rates could be stabilizing after years of decline.

Divorce rates for every 1,000 married women fell from 17.6 in 2014 to 16.9 in 2015 according to the NCFMR data. Divorce rates have been falling steadily since peaking in 1980, and most experts believe that this reflects a shift in societal views on cohabitation. They say that fewer couples are getting divorced because fewer are getting married in the first place, and they point out that the odds of staying together have not really changed much for couples who do decide to walk down the aisle.

The data also reveals that social values and education and income levels can influence marriage and divorce rates. Well-educated and affluent couples tend to marry more often and stay together longer than couples who did not attend college and who earn less, and couples in conservative areas are less likely to divorce than those who live in more liberal parts of the country.

Family law attorneys may recommend a prenuptial agreement for couples who would like to do what they can to make divorce less likely. A properly drafted prenuptial agreement may make a marriage less vulnerable to fear and insecurity, but negotiations should be made openly and in good faith, and the document's terms should be essentially equitable. Attorneys could help couples to draft prenuptial agreements that are more likely to withstand legal scrutiny while still providing them with peace of mind.

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