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Is Divorce Contagious?
Is Divorce Contagious?

Experts say divorce spread like a disease, becoming “contagious” in close social groups such as family, friends, and even co-workers.

“Think of this ‘idea’ of getting divorced, this ‘option’ of getting divorced like a virus, because it spreads more or less the same way,” University of California, San Diego professor James Fowler told “Good Morning America.”

“When one person experiences divorce, it gives the people around them information about what that’s like,” he said.

According to new research done by Fowler, along with professors Nicholas Christakis and Rose McDermott, being friends with someone who gets divorced makes someone 147 percent more likely to get divorced themselves. A person who has a sibling who gets divorced is 22 percent more likely to also split from his spouse, the researchers say.

Fowler said someone does not necessarily have to get divorced himself to change the way divorce is viewed in a social group.

“You might have a friend, for example, who gets divorced, and that changes your mind about whether or not this is an appropriate option. And then you go and talk to a different friend about whether or not they should get divorced. And so one person’s divorce can travel through the network even though the person in the middle isn’t really affected,” Fowler said.

Dan Trimble told Good Morning America his experience with the divorce bug.

“The 32 years we were married, for the most part, were very good years.  We had a lot of memories. I was active duty Air Force. We were traveling all over the world.”

In the final years of his marriage, Trimble said, he and his wife had begun to grow apart. Trimble says at the time he did not realize that he and his wife were developing separate interests.

It wasn’t until their daughter went through a divorce and came out happier on the other side that Trimble’s now ex-wife asked for a divorce.  Trimble said that while he does believe his wife decided to divorce him because of his daughter’s example, he does not blame his daughter.

Instead, he said, he compares their relationship to an immune system.

“If your immune system is up to full speed, and you’re good and healthy, you’re eating right, you’re sleeping right, you’re getting exercise … you can be subjected to people who have colds and flu,” he said. “But if your immune system is run down, and you get up against somebody who’s got a cold or maybe has the onset of the flu, you’re a pretty good suspect for coming down with it.

“I kind of think in my own particular situation, my marriage was a lot like that,” he said. “The best way I can describe it is as a disease.”

ABC goes on to list some suggestions for how to not let a divorce in your inner affect your marriage.


If you find that divorce is your only option, whatever the reason, Orland lawyer Jeffrey Feulner is here to help.  Contact the Men’s Divorce Law Firm today to learn how we can assist you with your family law needs.