TIME Marriage

Math Says This Is the Perfect Age to Get Married

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Cultura/GretaMarie—Getty Images/Cultura Exclusive

A new study suggests that people should get married between the ages of 28 and 32 if they don’t want to get divorced, at least in the first five years.

Before we proceed to the explanation: Don’t shoot me if you’re older than that and not married yet. These are just statistics and can in no way account for your personal situation, or that last cheater/psycho/narcissist you wasted 18 months on. Nobody’s blaming you. You are a wonderful and entirely loveable person.

Now, moving on.

The study was done by Nick Wolfinger, a sociologist at the University of Utah, and published by the generally pro-marriage Institute of Family Studies. It suggests that people who get married between 28 and 32 split up least in the ensuing years. This is a new development; sociologists formerly believed that waiting longer to get hitched usually led to more stability, and there was no real sell-by date.

Wolfinger analyzed data from 2006-2010 and the 2011-2013 National Survey of Family Growth. He found a sort of upside down bell curve. “The odds of divorce decline as you age from your teenage years through your late twenties and early thirties,” he writes. “Thereafter, the chances of divorce go up again as you move into your late thirties and early forties.” For each year after about 32, the chance of divorce goes up about 5% says the study.

Divorce chart

 

Some wag over at Slate called this the Goldilocks theory of getting married: you have to be not too young and not too old.

There are lots of reasons why late 20s/early 30s would make sense as a time to start a lifelong partnership with someone: people are old enough to understand if they really get along with someone or are just blinded by hormones. They’ve already made significant life choices and taken on some responsibilities. And they may be just financially solvent enough to be able to contemplate supporting someone should the need arise.

On the other hand, they’re not so old and set in their ways that they can’t make the myriad of little adjustments in habits and lifestyle and goals and personal hygiene that marriage requires. They probably don’t have ex-spouses or children among whom they to divide their time, resources and loyalty.

Wolfinger says the curve persists “even after controlling for respondents’ sex, race, family structure of origin, age at the time of the survey, education, religious tradition, religious attendance, and sexual history, as well as the size of the metropolitan area that they live in.” He thinks the reason might be selection bias. “The kinds of people who wait till their thirties to get married may be the kinds of people who aren’t predisposed toward doing well in their marriages,” he writes. This also means “people who marry later face a pool of potential spouses that has been winnowed down to exclude the individuals most predisposed to succeed at matrimony.”

(Again, I refer you to my caveat in paragraph two. It’s Mr. Wolfinger suggesting singles over 32 are not marriage material, not me. )

Other sociologists who cover this waterfront were quick to weigh in with doubts. The University of Maryland’s Phillip Cohen used a different set of data, from the American Community Survey, to say that getting older didn’t mean your marriage had less chance of survival. According to his analysis, the perfect age to get married if you don’t want to get divorced is 45 to 49, which, he notes, is why people shouldn’t make life decisions based on statistical analyses on the Internet.

Philip N. Cohen

The truth is: divorce is a difficult social pattern to measure. Many states decline to collect data on it. And since a growing number of people are opting for living together without getting the government seal of approval, counting divorce is becoming less useful as a way of measuring family fracturing.

Still, there are a few truisms backed by research: Having money and a college degree reduces your chances of getting divorced, as does getting engaged before moving in together and waiting to have kids until after the nuptials. Those you can pretty much take to the bank.

Until the next study.

Read next: The 25 Most Influential Marriages of All Time

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TIME celebrity

Blake Shelton and Miranda Lambert Are Getting a Divorce

The country singers tied the knot in Texas in 2011, after dating for 6 years

Blake Shelton and Miranda Lambert are calling it quits after four years of marriage.

“This is not the future we envisioned,” the couple said in a statement to The Associated Press Monday. “And it is with heavy hearts that we move forward separately. We are real people, with real lives, with real families, friends and colleagues. Therefore, we kindly ask for privacy and compassion concerning this very personal matter.”

The country singers tied the knot in Texas in 2011, after dating for six years.

Both remained mum on social media about the split leading up to the announcement, with Lambert Tweeting about an upcoming show just hours before the statement’s release Monday afternoon.

The famous pair – who recently played an Independence Day show together – have weathered rumors of relationship troubles for years, which Shelton, 39, addressed in a 2013 PEOPLE cover story.

“[I tell Miranda], ‘I have nothing to hide from you,’ ” he said at the time, noting he even let Lambert, 31, go through his phone. “That’s always been our policy: ‘Here’s my phone. Go through it.’ … That’s really the kind of trust we have … There are no secrets. [I’ll say], ‘Go dig through my drawers or my computer if you feel like you need to.’ And that’s been a really good thing, because I don’t want her to ever have any doubts.”

Lambert has spoken out about their relationship before, as well. Last year, upon their third wedding anniversary, she told PEOPLE, “Marriage is hard, and it’s awesome, and you should make a huge deal of it. We always try to be together, I wouldn’t want to be on opposite ends of the country on our anniversary! That time is sacred.”

This article originally appeared on People.com

TIME celebrities

Ben Affleck and Jennifer Garner Split Up

People broke the news

Bennifer is no more, People magazine has exclusively learned.

Ben Affleck and Jennifer Garner announced their divorce Tuesday, just one day after their 10-year anniversary. “After much thought and careful consideration, we have made the difficult decision to divorce,” the power couple told People in a statement.

Affleck and Garner met on the set of the film Daredevil in 2003, and now have three kids: Violet, 9, Serafina, 6, and Samuel, 3. The Oscar-winning actor and director famously raised eyebrows in 2013 when he described his marriage as “work” when accepting the Best Picture Oscar for Argo.

Read more at People.com

MONEY Debt

What Happens to My Debt If I Get a Divorce?

stack of bills sliced in half
John Kuczala—Getty Images

Just like your marital assets, debt gets divvied up too.

While you might have known that marital assets are separated during divorce, did you know that debts are as well? Yes, debt, just like any other possession, has to be divvied up and re-distributed during divorce. Unfortunately, this can make an already difficult process even more stressful. However, understanding how your debts might be split before entering your proceedings could help you better plan for your new life and give you peace of mind. Here is an easy-to-understand breakdown of what happens to your debt during a divorce.

Credit Card Debt

The responsibility of credit card debt during divorce tends to be decided by whether or not the credit card was under a joint or single account. While the rules on joint accounts vary from state to state, most cases consider marital debt to be any debt accumulated during the partnership, regardless of whose name appears on the account. This means you’ll most likely be considered partially responsible for debt on the account, whether or not you were the one to make the payment. Separate accounts, however, are just that — separate. Whomever’s name appears on the account will, more often than not, be awarded full responsibility.

Mortgage

Here’s where things get a little complicated. The division of a mortgage isn’t as straightforward as credit card debt during divorce. Because a mortgage is typically such a monumental expense, most states offer a variety of options for dealing with the situation. Ownership of the mortgage will typically be awarded to someone who makes significantly more than their former spouse or has been awarded full custody of the former couple’s children. In either of these situations, one party will be required to buy out the other’s equity in the house. Of course, the couple can decide to bypass all of these decisions and simply sell the home if they so choose.

Medical Expenses

Depending upon where you live, your state might have a different view on whether or not you and your former spouse share medical debts. “Community Property” states (Arizona, California, Idaho, Louisiana, Nevada, New Mexico, Texas, Washington and Wisconsin) all debt will typically be divided amongst all parties. While this might greatly simplify the process, it leaves you open to taking on debt that you had no part in acquiring. In “equal division property” states however, the court will take a variety of factors into consideration when determining the responsibility of medical debt. This will usually include whether or not you and your spouse were living together at the time the debt was acquired, whether or not you were legally separated at the time, whether or not the debt falls under the umbrella of “necessary care,” and what impact that debt might have on any children you and your former spouse might have had.

While divorce is far from an easy process, knowing how it might affect your financial situation can really help you reduce the stress and handle other expenses it brings. Take the time to sit down and look through all your financial documents: bills, credit statements, loan papers, etc. Pull your free annual credit reports to see what accounts are reported in your name, and periodically revisit them to watch for important changes. Creating a financial snapshot can help your and your attorneys determine the best course of action for you and your family.

Read next: Can a Debt Collector Come After Me If I Never Got a Bill?

More From Credit.com:

MONEY College

How Can I Make Sure My Ex Pays Her Share of Our Kids’ College Costs?

split cake and cake toppers
Jeffrey Hamilton—Getty Images

Failure to take immediate action is risky.

Q. I’ve had an ugly divorce and I think my wife will refuse to pay her part of college costs for our kids. The oldest kid starts in September, and I can’t afford to pay the whole thing. I’m also not sure I want to go through another fight and go back to court. Plus, I can’t really afford an attorney again. What are my options?

A. What you need to do is act quickly.

Failure to take immediate action may be interpreted by the court, in the future, as you having waived your right — and your child’s right — to seek financial contribution from your ex-wife toward the satisfaction of your child’s college costs and expenses, said Kenneth White, a divorce attorney with Shane and White in Edison, N.J..

White said for starters, he makes it a point never to convince anyone that they need an attorney to appear in Family Court, and nearly 50% of those who appear before the court in New Jersey do it without an attorney. (And while this is specific to New Jersey, no matter where you live, it’s important to find out what the rules and deadlines are so that you can advocate for your child.)

Whether to hire an attorney or not often rests upon just how comfortable the non-attorney individual is appearing before a judge, coupled with how competent that individual is. However, you often only get one chance to correctly present an issue before the Family Court, he said.

“After the fact, if you did something wrong or otherwise failed to raise a specific point it will be 10 times harder and more costly for an attorney to try to undo something you did wrong and that attorney, after the fact, may not be able to undo something done wrong,” White said.

So back to acting quickly.

Specifically, White said, there is case law in New Jersey allows a judge to deny an application by one party against his/her ex-spouse for contribution toward the satisfaction of their child’s college costs and expenses if that application is made after the actual costs and expenses were incurred.

“Therefore, it is essential that you file your application with the court to compel your ex-wife to contribute to the satisfaction of your child’s college costs and expenses before the same are incurred — this fall,” White said.

He said another reason to file your application sooner rather than later is that it will likely protect you from many additional defenses that your ex-wife could raise.

“For example, she will be unable to claim that she was unaware and otherwise kept in the dark about your child’s intentions, such as wanting to attend college and where, and perhaps that she was denied an opportunity to have a say in the matter,” he said.

Moving sooner will allow everyone involved — your ex-spouse, you and your child — to look at all the relevant financial considerations, such as if it’s practical for your child to attend his/her first choice of college, he said.

Unlike divorce litigation that can take a year or perhaps longer depending upon what county your case was heard in, White said a post-judgment application to address an issue such as satisfaction of college costs and expenses may be filed, argued and resolved by the court in as quick as a 24-day cycle. Post-judgment motions must be filed 24 days before the return date, i.e. the date the judge is to have a hearing regarding the issue. Therefore, White said, you shouldn’t be intimidated by the potential of additional litigation because it will not be as complex as your entire divorce was.

“Unfortunately, absent confirming an amicable resolution directly with your ex-wife, your only option is to file an application with the court as soon as possible,” he said. “Alternatively, you — and more importantly, your child — may lose the opportunity to have your child secure a college education that he/she may be entitled to.”

So you should consider consulting with an attorney who can review all the circumstances of your case and offer you an opinion, even if it’s just a consultation.

More from Credit.com:

TIME

Texas Supreme Court Upholds a Same-Sex Divorce

Even though state does not recognize same-sex marriage

Texas does not recognize same-sex marriage, but its Supreme Court upheld a same-sex divorce on Friday.

The 5-3 decision ruled against the state of Texas, which had argued that the divorce granted to Angelique Naylor and Sabina Daly by a district court would “implicitly recognize” the existence of same-sex marriage. Justice Jeffrey Brown wrote against the claims in the court opinion on the grounds that the State lacked standing to intervene in the divorce.

Naylor and Daly were married in Massachusetts in 2004, and then moved to Travis County in Texas where they filed for divorce in 2010. Aware of the legal complications of divorcing in a state that does not allow same-sex marriage, a district court granted the couple “a valid and subsisting divorce.” The next day, the state appealed the decision in order “to defend the constitutionality of Texas and federal laws,” which only grant divorce to married people of opposite sexes.

Today, the court denied the State has standing to appeal, since Texas was not a party of record in the divorce and did not protest it on time. “The record reveals that the State, while fully aware of the public import of this private dispute, had adequate opportunity to intervene and simply failed to diligently assert its rights,” Brown wrote in his ruling. “This is not a case in which the State was unaware of the litigation or blindsided by the result.”

Texas Governor Greg Abbott was the state’s attorney general when Texas petitioned the divorce. In a Friday statement Abbot responded to the ruling,”The Texas Supreme Court’s decision is disappointing and legally incorrect. The Court mistakenly relied on a technicality to allow this divorce to proceed. “

TIME Marriage

Why Remarrying Isn’t What it Used To Be

elderly-couple-holding-hands
Getty Images

Fewer people are retying the knot, especially women.

If you’re wondering whether you should get married again, you’re not alone. About 40% of all the two million odd marriages that took place in 2013 were remarriages either for the bride or the groom. About 20% of them were remarriages for both.

Divorce remains a deeply unpleasant process, but not as hard to do as it was. And marriage—for all its flaws—is still a very popular institution. So it makes sense that a lot of people figure they’ll give it another go. The triumph of hope over experience and all that.

But second (and third and so on) marriages are not what they were. According to a new brief written by Wendy Manning for the Council on Contemporary Families, here are some ways retying the knot is changing.

*Remarriage rates are falling. In 1990, 50 out of every 1,000 previously-married men and women got married again. In 2013, it was 28, a 40% drop.

*Much of that drop has been among women. In 1995, 54% of women who divorced before age 45 had remarried within five years. In 2005, only 38% had.

*Men are more likely to remarry. The rate is almost twice as high for men as for women (40 per 1,000 vs. 21 per 1,000)

*There aren’t always just two. Among remarrying couples, 46% already have a child under 18 living in the home. (Then again, 38% of couples who marry for the first time already have a child in the home)

*If there are kids, they’re usually hers. Only 9% of remarried stepmoms are living with their stepkids, while 46% of remarried stepdads have their wife’s kids in the home. The good news is that more people with stepkids report a happier marriage than those who don’t, a switch from prior years.

*Remarriages, which have always had a higher implosion rate than first marriages, have become even less stable over the past 20 years. By 2010, almost a third of remarriages (31%) of women under 45 ended in divorce within five years. In 1995, that figure was 23%. (About 20% of first marriages don’t make it to their fifth anniversary.)

*Finding a new spouse takes a little longer. Half of the folks who remarry do so within four years. In 2002 it was three years.

Some of this is slightly disheartening for those who wish to marry again, but never fear, the decision can pay off. “Remarriages confer at least some of the same health benefits as first marriages,” says the report. And in any case, studies have shown that about 100% of every newly married couple thinks their love is going to last forever.

MONEY

Don’t Let the Cost of a Haircut Ruin Your Relationship

Haircut
Alamy

Never mess with the hair budget.

Here’s a little marital tip: When financial experts say couples should compromise on absolutely everything, there are times when you just need to split hairs.

For instance, just try to tell your spouse how much he or she should spend on getting their hair done.

Guaranteed nuclear war.

I asked my social media followers about the way couples should handle the significant costs of getting one’s hair done, and the reaction was fiery.

A sampler: “There are some things you don’t share with your spouse, and hair cost is one of them.”

“It costs to look this good … and no, hubby doesn’t need to know, nor does he ask.”

“Smart husbands don’t mess with the hair-doing budget.”

“Two things men should only address if they have something good to say: hair and weight.”

Haircare, in particular, seems to be an intensely personal subject for couples. Throw money concerns into the mix, and it can lead to the financial equivalent of a really bad hair day. Indeed, financial arguments are by far the No. 1 one predictor of divorce, according to research by Sonya Britt, a professor at Kansas State University.

There is no doubt the costs of haircare can add up, and quickly. U.S. spending on hair services in 2014 amounted to a record $46 billion, estimates Parsippany, New Jersey-based consulting firm Kline & Co.

The average salon client drops $67.17 per visit for hair services, according to American Salon’s Green Book industry report. That’s a repeated cost, of course, with men going to a stylist 11.2 times a year on average, and women dropping in 12.9 times annually.

“As a woman you grow up feeling like expensive hair treatments are mandatory, almost like you’re being shamed into it,” says Dr. Phoenyx Austin, a fitness expert in Washington and author of “If You Love It, It Will Grow” and the children’s book “Love Your Hair.”

“You don’t want someone telling you you’re spending too much money. It’s a very touchy subject.”

That said, Austin says the final tab can easily get “out of hand,” when you are combining pricey appointments with expensive take-home products. She knows of women who spend up to $1,500 a month on their hair.

Elaborate Procedures

Costs can disproportionately affect minority communities, where haircare procedures tend to be more elaborate. The average cost of getting extensions or weaves, according to the Green Book: A whopping $487.25 every time, up $137.29 in a single year.

Austin, who is African-American, went for a more natural look years ago, which saves a ton of money on processes like chemical straightening. But if times are tight and there is room for your family’s salon budget to be cut back, she advises that you look in the mirror first.

“The worst thing is to come at your spouse complaining about a salon bill, when you’re shelling out lots of money on other stuff,” she says.

“Make sure to frame the discussion that any cutbacks will go into family savings, or to your kids’ college. That’s a good way to massage it into the conversation.”

Samantha McGarry once went into battle on the subject, and the skirmish was brief and decisive.

“At one point, my husband said something about the cost of getting my hair done,” says the 47-year-old public relations executive from Framingham, Massachusetts. “So we had a little conversation, and now he knows to focus on other areas.”

If times got really tough, McGarry would find room to trim spending and try more do-it-yourself coloring jobs. Truth be told, McGarry doesn’t spend crazy amounts on her hair: $120 every now and then on a cut-and-color. She certainly does not want that budget shorn.

“It’s about feeling beautiful, it’s about having ‘Me Time,’ it’s about all of that,” McGarry says. “Spouses should probably steer clear in order to keep the peace.”

TIME Mental Health/Psychology

This Divorce Arrangement Stresses Kids Out Most

Regarding the wellbeing of kids with divorced parents, the debate over what kind of custody arrangement is best rages on. But a new study, published Monday in the Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health, suggests that children fare better when they spend time living with both of their parents.

That goes against some current thinking that kids in shared-custody situations are exposed to more stress due to constantly moving around and the social upheaval that can come along with that. “Child experts and people in general assumed that these children should be more stressed,” says study author Malin Bergström, PhD, researcher at the Centre for Health Equity Studies in Stockholm, Sweden. “But this study opposes a major concern that this should not be good for children.”

The researchers wanted to see if kids who lived part time with both parents were more stressed than those who lived with just one parent. They looked at national data from almost 150,000 12- and 15-year-old students—each in either 6th grade or 9th grade—and studied their psychosomatic health problems, including sleep problems, difficulty concentrating, loss of appetite, headaches, stomachaches and feeling tense, sad or dizzy. They found that 69% of them lived in nuclear families, while 19% spent time living with both parents and about 13% lived with only one parent.

Kids in nuclear families reported the fewest psychosomatic problems, but the more interesting finding was that students who lived with both of their separated parents reported significantly fewer problems than kids who lived with only one parent.

“We think that having everyday contact with both parents seems to be more important, in terms of stress, than living in two different homes,” says Bergström. “It may be difficult to keep up on engaged parenting if you only see your child every second weekend.” Having two parents also tends to double the number of resources a kid is exposed to, including social circles, family and material goods like money. “Only having access to half of that may make children more vulnerable or stressed than having it from both parents, even though they don’t live together,” she says.

Girls reported more psychosomatic problems than boys did, and the most frequent problem for girls was sadness. Sleep problems were the most common in kids overall.

In Sweden, joint-custody parenting has risen dramatically in the past few decades; in the 1980s, only 1% of kids of divorced parents lived in joint-custody arrangements, but that number jumped to 40% in 2010. Shared parenting is less common in the U.S., says Ned Holstein, MD, founder and acting executive director of the National Parents Organization, and he estimates the rate is less than 20%. Still, he says that the research in favor of shared parenting for kids is overwhelming. “You’ll hear opponents say, ‘You’ll turn them into suitcase kids; they don’t want to be dragged back and forth,'” Holstein says. “Clearly, taking the suitcase back and forth once or twice a week so that you spend a lot of time with both parents is way better for the kids than the alternative of basically losing an intimate and closely loving relationship with one parent.”

For all the week’s news of interest to families, sign up here for TIME’s free weekly parenting newsletter.

TIME Heart Disease

What Divorce Does to Women’s Heart Health

broken heart
Getty Images

When it comes to the fallout from a divorce, one spouse is harmed more by it’s biological and psychological effects on the heart

Dissolving a marriage is hard on everyone, but researchers say the psychological stress of a divorce can have serious physical effects on the heart, especially for women.

Women who divorced at least once were 24% more likely to experience a heart attack compared to women who remained married, and those divorcing two or more times saw their risk jump to 77%. In the study published in the journal Circulation: Cardiovascular Quality and Outcomes, Matthew Dupre of Duke University and his colleagues found that men weren’t at similar risk. Men only saw their heart attack chances go up if they divorced two or more times compared to men who didn’t split with their spouses. If men remarried, their heart risk did not go up, while for women who remarried, their chances of having a heart attack remained slightly higher, at 35%, than that of divorced women.

MORE: Divorce More Likely When Wife Falls Ill

These findings remained strong even after Dupre’s team adjusted for other potential contributors to heart attack, including age, social factors such as changes in occupation and job status and health insurance coverage, and physiological factors including body mass index, hypertension and diabetes. Previous studies have found links between divorce or widowhood and heart disease that were explained, at least in part, by changes in people’s access to health care and their ability to keep up healthy eating and exercise habits.

But these are the first results from tracking people over a longer period of time—18 years—to capture the cumulative effects of changes in marital status, says Dupre. “We looked at lifetime exposure to not only current marital status, but how many times someone has been divorced in the past. What we found was that repeated exposure to divorce put men and women, but particularly women, at higher risk of having a heart attack compared to those who were married.”

MORE: Study: Marriage is Good For The Heart

And it wasn’t simply changes in health insurance coverage or financial status resulting from the divorce that explained the higher heart risk. Even after Dupre’s group accounted for these, the relationship held. While he admits that the trial did not investigate exactly how divorce is seeding more heart attacks, other studies hint at a possible explanation. Dramatic life changes such as divorce, which signal an end to not only a significant relationship but potentially to stable financial and social circumstances as well, can lead to spikes in the stress hormone cortisol, which in turn can push blood pressure, cholesterol and blood sugar to unhealthy heights.

The long term scope of the study revealed the impact that social and life events can have on the physical functioning of the body. “The health consequences of social stresses are real,” says Dupre. For women, the 77% higher risk of heart attack connected to multiple divorces was on par with well-established factors such as hypertension (which boosts risk by 73%) and diabetes (which elevates heart problems by 81%).

MORE: Do Married People Really Live Longer?

That’s doesn’t mean, of course, that women should avoid getting divorced to save their hearts. “Another way to put it is to say that women who are stably married are at an increased advantage of preventing heart attacks than women who may have had to go through transitions where they weren’t,” says Dupre.

It also makes a good case for doctors including discussion about potential stressors, including lifestyle and social circumstances, in their health assessment of patients. Recognizing that divorce may be a life event that can contribute to higher heart attack risk, for example, they can monitor patients experiencing divorce more carefully, and be alert to the first signs of potential problems with cholesterol, blood pressure or blood sugar. “Understanding all of the factors that lead to a physiological response are equally important,” says Dupre. And potentially life saving.

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