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Rural Divorce Rate Increasing in Michigan and Elsewhere

A recent New York Times article exposed one important trend revealed by recent U.S. census data: the difference in divorce rates between rural and urban America has essentially disappeared. In 1970, the number of divorced individuals per 1,000 married people was considerable higher in metro areas (nearly 60 per 1,000) than non-metro areas (just over 40 per 1,000). Data from 2009 show for the first time that those numbers are equal, and the rate has exceeded 200 divorcees per 1,000 married individuals nationwide.

In Michigan, county-by-county results show a clear reversal over the last generation. In 1980, the few counties in the state with divorced population rates above the national average were mostly in far southern Michigan and the greater Detroit metro. But now that area is slightly below the national average, while rates of marital dissolution in many rural counties of the Upper Peninsula and the northern Lower Peninsula exceed the national average.

No single change can explain these trends, but one factor is likely the disappearance of the stigma of divorce across demographic divisions and the ability of spouses to leave relationships without outdated social consequences. Developments like Internet access have created broader horizons for individuals, and they realize that meeting a new partner and creating a better future is within reach.

Spouses who are considering divorce also have better access to information about the legal aspects, from child support, custody and spousal support (alimony) to relocation. The complexity of issues like interstate support enforcement have decreased significantly due to Michigan's compliance with the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act (UCCJEA) and the Uniform Interstate Family Support Act (UIFSA).

While skilled legal representation is always crucial in such important matters, experienced family law attorneys can work to quickly achieve an optimal outcome and save the client money in the long run.

Source: NPR.org, "Divorce is no longer rare in rural America" Mar. 24, 2011.

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