Survey suggests early marriage-related spending may predict divorce risk

A survey shows that people who spend more on their engagement rings and weddings are more likely to experience financial stress and eventually divorce.

Many couples in Texas have learned firsthand that financial stress can cause strain in a relationship. Still, couples who are preparing to get married may view spending a little too much on the engagement ring or wedding ceremony as normal or even necessary. Unfortunately, a new survey suggests that spending more on the engagement ring or wedding may substantially increase a couple's risk of divorce.

Steep spending and divorce

Economics professors from Emory University recently surveyed more than 3,000 people who had been married at some point, according to The New York Post. The professors omitted responses from same-sex couples and people older than 60. Responses from people who provided inconsistent answers or completed the survey in less than two minutes were also discarded.

The professors found that spending between $10,000 and $20,000 on a wedding raised a couple's likelihood of divorcing by 29 percent, while spending more than $20,000 made a couple 46 percent more likely to get divorced. According to CNBC, paying between $2,000 and $4,000 for an engagement ring also increased a couple's risk of divorcing by 1.3 times.

Early financial stress

These findings are troubling given the average price of U.S. weddings and engagement rings. According to CNBC, the average American wedding costs $30,000. The New York Post reports that the average engagement ring price given in the Emory survey was $2,500. Both figures suggest that many people who have married recently may be at a higher risk for divorcing, if there is a direct relationship between early spending and divorce.

While the study does not conclusively establish this relationship, the researchers did find that survey respondents who spent more on their engagement rings or weddings were more likely to experience debt and associated stress. These early issues could strain a couple's relationship and ultimately raise the risk of divorce.

Divorce and debt division

In a Texas divorce, most property obtained during marriage is considered community property and divided equitably. Gifts, inheritances and property acquired before the marriage may be considered separate property. Pre-marital debts are separate property, but dividing debts accrued during the marriage can be complicated.

The fact that liabilities are typically not split up between spouses makes a reasonable division of assets essential for spouses who are dealing with debt at the time of divorce. The way that a spouse presents his or her earning power, current income and financial need may significantly affect the way that property is ultimately divided.

Anyone who is in debt and preparing for a divorce should consider speaking to an attorney about working toward a fair and financially reasonable settlement.

Keywords: marriage, divorce, finance