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Does Open Marriage Affect Divorce Rates?

By Sheryl Rentz on May 29, 2022

pink love padlock on fence

In recent years, we’ve heard a lot about how the United States divorce rate is increasing, including the commonly heard statistic that half of marriages end in divorce. The good news for people getting married nowadays? It’s actually closer to a quarter of marriages.

But while it’s an easy statistic to spout off, this broad percentage of failed marriages ignores the fact that not all divorces are created equal.

While most marriages start with mutual love a majority of them end due to irreconcilable differences. Irreconcilable differences can range from a myriad of issues, but according to a recent study, 92 percent of open marriages fail. Though tracking, recording and analyzing open marriages can be challenging as the arrangements between the couple may be convoluted.

With an open marriage agreements between couples are more likely to become troublesome as some partners claim that they did not know they were in an open marriage.

Being that there is no official paperwork, open marriages are a verbal agreement between the two partners to which they can establish their own sets of boundaries, rules, and limitations.  This also leaves each partner with no legal repercussion if they decide to break these private marital understandings. If these problems led to divorce it’s tough to find fault based on verbal contracts. Learn your legal rights by consulting a knowledgeable attorney at the Law Offices of Sheryl R. Rentz, P.C. Discuss your specific case today by calling (866) 876-9023.

At-Fault Divorce

Pennsylvania gives the option for individuals to file for “fault” or “no-fault” divorces. At-fault divorce suggests that a married person can prove a specific reason why they should get divorced. Reasons stated typically focus on the misconduct and behavior of the other spouse that is so bad that the court will award the “innocent and injured spouse” a divorce. If you can add fault to your divorce you may not be granted property. However, it can affect your case in other ways including spousal support and the speed of the divorce. Examples of misconduct or bad behavior can include:

  • Adultery
  • Imprisonment for 2 or more years
  • Cruel or life-threatening treatment
  • Bigamy
  • Any other intolerable actions

What Increases the Likelihood of Divorce?

The reality is that many factors affect your chances of getting divorced. For example, the younger you are, the more likely you are to call it quits. The more previous marriages (and divorces) you have, the more likely you are to get divorced. And it might seem obvious, but the more comfortable you are with divorce as an option for a troubled marriage, the more likely you are to get divorced.

While it’s difficult to tell if open marriage is becoming more common in real life, it seems to be more common in the media, at least. People are talking about it in popular culture. This brings us to the question: can couples who choose to be in a non-monogamous committed relationship really make it work? And if not, could open marriage be affecting divorce rates?

What Do Studies Say About Open Marriages?

A few studies have been done, but there isn’t a lot of data on this issue, and the data that does exist is conflicting. However, most therapists and others in the field of psychology agree that setting boundaries in advance, and following them, is the key to success. Breakdowns often happen in a marriage when one person feels that the other broke the rules, similar to how one would feel about cheating in a monogamous relationship.

According to a recent study, 4-9% of Americans take part in open relationships. Though, as previously stated, it is complicated to study these types of relationships as some partners are more secretive and sometime dishonest about their marital affairs. However, when the study examined singles, it revealed that 1 in 5 Americans claimed to at some point, involved in a consensual open relationship.

So, are open marriages taking up more than their share of divorces? Probably not—successes and failures in open marriages tend to look similar to those in traditional marriages. The additional challenges of an open marriage, however, should not be overlooked. Jealousy and trust problems are more likely to arise when you complicate things with a third party.

If you do find yourself in an open marriage that isn’t working and you are considering filing for divorce, you should consult an attorney. A knowledgeable attorney will be able to guide you through the process of gathering documents, determining whether the divorce is considered at-fault or no-fault, and will generally work to protect your livelihood. Call the Law Offices of Sheryl R. Rentz, P.C., for a free, compassionate consultation at (610) 645-0100.

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Posted in: Divorce

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