There is a general consensus that online dating leads to weaker relationships and a higher divorce rate. Since the onset of online dating, however, divorce rates have trended downward.
While there may not be a direct correlation, research suggests that online dating has not caused the irreparable harm that many people suspect and that it may even help foster stronger romantic connections.
If you are facing a divorce, the time to consult with an experienced Killeen divorce attorney is sooner rather than later.
Divorce Rates Are Declining
According to the United States Census, both marriage and divorce rates dropped in the decade between 2009 and 2019. For the nation overall, the following statistics apply:
For every 1,000 women who were at least 15 years old, there were 16.3 new marriages in 2019 – in contrast to 17.6 new marriages in 2009.
The divorce rate fell from 9.7 new divorces among women who were at least 15 years old in 2009 to 7.6 new divorces for the same group in 2019.
These rates, however, vary considerably between states. Consider the following statistics (for 2019):
Wyoming had the highest marriage rate in the nation, while Delaware had the lowest.
Arkansas’s divorce rate was among the highest in the country. The divorce rates of Maine and the District of Columbia were among the lowest.
The statistics for the State of Texas include the following data:
For every 1,000 women who were at least 15 years old in 2019, there were 18.2 new marriages, which is 1.9 over the national average.
In 2009, the new divorce rate per 1,000 women who were at least 15 years old was 11.9, which is well above the national average of 9.7 for that year.
By 2019, the new divorce rate per 1,000 women who were at least 15 years old had fallen to 8.6, which remains above the national average for that year.
In terms of rankings, the following statistics apply:
In 2009, Texas tied with Arizona for eighth position on the list of states with the highest divorce rate.
In 2019, Texas tied with North Dakota for sixteenth position on the list of states with the highest divorce rate.
Online Dating’s Influence
The Strength of Absent Ties: Social Integration via Online Dating reports on a study from 2017 (updated in 2018) that delves into online dating and attendant trends in terms of romantic relationships.
How We Meet
In the past, people married mainly as a result of familiarity and proximity. Before the explosion of the online world, including online dating, people were far more likely to meet, connect with, date, and marry someone from their own communities, which generally meant from their own race and socioeconomic background.
Online dating changed the landscape of how people meet and connect, which makes more diverse marriages more common. When couples meet online, they are generally complete strangers who are also far more likely to come from diverse backgrounds, cultures, and beyond.
The study finds that the increased social integrations supported by online dating are significant and likely to be lasting.
How I Met Your Mother
Most of us don’t marry our best friends or neighbors, but in the past 100 years, it was very common for people to marry a friend of a friend or neighbor – or someone we knew in the past and reconnected with as a result of our acquaintance groups.
In other words, one of the most momentous relationships (marriage) was often based on happenstance. In fact, Americans tended – in those decades prior to the last 20 years – to meet their romantic partners in the following ways (in order of significance):
Through mutual friends
At their place of employment
At their place of worship
Through family connections
Through neighbors (or as neighbors)
These are all classified in the study in terms of a weak-ties phenomenon.
In the Last 20 Years
In the last 20 years, the weak-ties phenomenon has weakened, and the way people meet their significant others has shifted considerably. As the authors of the aforementioned study point out, “the Internet increasingly allows Americans to meet and form relationships with perfect strangers, that is, people with whom they had no previous social ties.”
According to these findings, online dating slid into the second position over the last decade or so in terms of Americans’ most popular mechanism for meeting a spouse. For heterosexual couples, online dating is second only to meeting through friends. For same-sex couples, online dating takes the top spot.
Interestingly, the advent of online dating with Match.com in 1995 corresponds nicely with when divorce rates began to fall (although there is no proven correlation).
For now, this study gives us something to think about, and the data certainly suggests that online dating has not fostered increased divorce rates.
Your Own Divorce
If you are facing a divorce, how you met is unlikely to play a significant role in what comes next. The outcome of your divorce will directly affect your parental rights moving forward and will set the stage for your future financials, which makes understanding the divorce process critical.
The Terms of Your Divorce
To begin, it is important to recognize that, although your divorce no doubt includes highly unique factors, the terms that you will need to resolve will be the same for every divorcing couple (as applicable).
The Division of Marital Property
A primary term of nearly every divorce is the division of marital property. In Texas, those assets and properties that you and your spouse acquired while you are married are identified as marital property – regardless of who purchased what or whose name is on what.
In the event of divorce, these assets must be divided between you fairly – in relation to a wide range of factors, including the following considerations:
Each spouse’s earnings and earning potential
Each spouse’s level of education and overall employability
Each spouse’s age and overall mental and physical health
The length of the marriage
The attorney fees accrued by each spouse in relation to the divorce
Whether or not there are children and if one spouse is taking on the role of the primary custodial parent
Whether fault played a role in the divorce (Even if the divorce is no-fault, which most are, either spouse’s fault in the matter can affect how the court divides marital property.)
Whether or not either spouse perpetrated a fraud on the marital property, which amounts to hiding, giving away, spending down, or otherwise artificially diminishing marital property
Any other factors the court deems relevant to the situation at hand.
Obtaining a fair division of your marital property is critical to your financial future, and one of the most important steps you can take to help ensure this happens is making a careful accounting of your assets early in the divorce process.
Your dedicated Killeen divorce attorney will guide you through the necessary legal steps to help make sure that you know what you have in order to help make sure that you receive a just division of marital assets.
Child Custody Arrangements
If you and your divorcing spouse share children, your child custody arrangements are naturally paramount. Child custody in the State of Texas breaks down into decision-making responsibilities (legal custody) and physical custody, which addresses the matter of when your children will be with you and when they will be with their other parent.
Legal custody concerns itself with primary parental decisions, such as the following matters:
Where your children will attend school
The extracurricular activities your children will engage in
The medical care and attention your children will receive
The religious education your children will receive
Where your children will make their primary residence
Physical custody, by contrast, determines your parenting schedule. You and your soon-to-be-ex can hammer out whatever schedule works for you, but the court will likely hand down a standard parenting time schedule if you need its intervention. Child custody falls into one of two classifications:
One parent becomes the primary custodial parent while the other has what amounts to a classic visitation schedule.
Both parents divide their time with the children more equally.
It is important to point out that every decision that Texas courts make concerning children is based on the best interests of those children.
Child support is calculated in accordance with state guidelines that include a variety of variables:
The age and overall health (both physical and mental) of each child
Any special needs that any of the children have and any extraordinary expenses incurred by any of the children (such as counseling, therapy, tutoring, and more)
The cost of educating the children
Each parent’s overall financial picture (including the recipient’s financial need and the payor’s ability to pay)
The financial resources available to the recipient
The cost of childcare if the primary custodial parent returned to work (in those situations in which one spouse is a stay-at-home parent)
Whether alimony is a factor and, if so, the amount and duration.
The children’s health insurance expenses and which parent covers them
The amount of time each parent spends with the children
Other relevant expenditures covered by either parent (such as child support for children shared with someone else)
Each spouse’s debt load
Any other factors the court deems relevant to the situation at hand.
In the end, the child support obligation is typically shouldered by the parent who is the higher earner – even if both parents share physical custody equally.
Alimony is called spousal maintenance in Texas, and it only plays a role in those divorces in which one spouse is left facing a financial downturn while the other has the income and assets to help.
Alimony is typically ordered to provide the recipient with the income boost that he or she needs in order to become more financially independent through the acquisition of education, experience, or job skills.
The factors that go into determining whether or not alimony is justified – and, if so, its amount and duration – include all the following considerations:
The duration of the marriage
Each spouse’s individual ability to provide for his or her own reasonable needs
Each spouse’s overall level of education and job skills and the amount of time it would take for the spouse in need to obtain the education or training necessary to support himself or herself
The age, overall health (both mental and physical), employment history, and earning capacity of the spouse requesting alimony
The role that child support payments play in the divorce – in terms of the payor’s ability to meet his or her own reasonable needs while paying child support.
Whether the spouse requesting alimony contributed to the other’s career and earning capacity (such as by supporting him or her while earning a related degree)
The contributions that either spouse made as a homemaker and caretaker for the children
Whether or not either spouse spent down or otherwise artificially diminished marital assets during or preceding the divorce process
Each spouse’s separate assets
Whether either spouse engaged in marital misconduct (For example, adultery can increase the chance that the spouse in the wrong will have to pay alimony and can void his or her right to receive alimony.)
Whether or not there is any history of domestic violence, child abuse, or neglect
Consult with an Experienced Killeen Divorce Attorney Today
Brett Pritchard at The Law Office of Brett H. Pritchard in Killeen, Texas, is a focused divorce attorney with the legal insight and compassion to help you. Divorces can be complex proceedings, and you should not try to navigate them by yourself. The process can take an emotional toll on a person.The best way to protect your rights as an individual or a parent is to enlist the help of an experienced attorney. Learn more by reaching out. Contact us online or call us at (254) 781-4222 today.