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The social costs of divorce

Divorce is expensive. We have done many posts on how much does divorce cost? People think of the answer only in “money” terms. But there are other costs, other expenses that we pay when families disintegrate.

Read about the actual monetary costs of divorce here!

“Divorce is a process” says Donna F. Ferber, LPC, LADC author of From ex wife to Exceptional Life, and I have to say I wholeheartedly agree. In her book, Divorce Culture Barbara Dafoe Whitehead argues that “marriage may be more important economic resource than a college degree.” She also says, “widespread divorce depletes social capital as well. Scholars tell us that strong and durable family and social bonds generate certain goods and services including money, mutual assistance, information, care-giving, protection and sponsorship.”

Obviously, I am not a sociologist and I can’t articulate my thoughts the way either Ferber or Defoe Whitehead do, but divorce is definitely a process and the process lasts a lot longer than the moment that the judgment of divorce is signed.

The impact of divorce is particularly acute when children are involved, I would imagine. But that is the obvious cost. Not so obvious are other costs, such as environmental, emotional and educational–all of which eventually trickles down to being society’s overall problem. 

One of the social costs of divorce, in my estimation, is its impact on the environment. Divorce is very un-green, wouldn’t you say? in the sense that divorce is harsher on the environment because it takes more resources to have two households rather than one when a couple divorces. In other words, two households require more water, electricity, food and other goods and services than one household. Two households will probably require at least two cars so you double the carbon emissions, the traffic jams, the gas use.

To the more obvious social costs of divorce— the impact on the children. Children of divorce probably require more counseling overall. They may be more likely to be high school drop outs, to act out in school, to rebel and to require “special education” services than children in a married household that is functional and healthy. These issues that children have may require more money and more resources to treat or eliminate. That is compounded by the possibility that after divorce, the non-custodial parent (usually the father) is sometimes a dead beat. So less resources are in the household for educational purposes, extra curricular activities, and nutrition which children need to excel and to be well-adjusted. Children may also be forced to go to inferior schools because single parents do not have as many resources as couples.

Even up to the point when such individuals enter the work force, get married themselves, and have children a cycle is perpetuated and with each generation of this, society gets just a bit more, how shall I say? Degenerated. Society gets more degenerated with each generation of people who are the product of divorce. Well, arguably. This is just one argument. One philosophy. I’m not saying it’s fact so don’t send me nasty comments…

The spouses themselves are impacted negatively too, I would think and that has social costs. Statistics show that more husbands than wives do better financially post-divorce. So women are at risk, along with their children, of becoming impoverished, winding up on the welfare rolls. Then we have the issue of health insurance that is now unaffordable with just one income coming in. So mothers (or single working parents) and children may have inferior health care, inferior nutrition and, correspondingly, inferior health. This has a huge social impact. Not to mention all the sick days and missed work days on account of the stress from constantly going back to court to bring petitions against the former spouse for one thing or another, or to answer petitions; the depression that often accompanies divorce; and all the other correlating costs.

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