Study: Higher wedding and engagement ring expenses could lead to divorce

Research suggests more spending on engagement rings and weddings is associated with a greater divorce risk, though the underlying reason is unknown.

Many couples in Gulfport know that financial stress can cause strife in relationships. Still, these couples may be surprised to learn that, according to a new study, buying extravagant engagement rings or holding no-expenses-spared weddings might put couples at a greater risk of divorcing. Unfortunately, when couples divorce while dealing with debt, they may face numerous complications during the property division and settlement process.

Surprising divorce risk factors

The findings of the recent study indicate that costly engagement rings and weddings might create too much of a financial burden for many marriages. Professors from Emory University reached this conclusion after surveying 3,000 adults who were or had been married, according to The Huffington Post. Greater spending on the wedding or engagement ring appeared to impact a couple's likelihood of divorcing. Researchers found the following correlations:

  • Next to men who chose engagement rings that cost between $500 and $2,000, men who opted for rings that cost between $2,000 and $4,000 were 1.3 times likelier to divorce.
  • Women who received rings worth more than $2,000 were more likely to be affected by financial worries; complaints about debt-related stress were three times more common among these women.
  • When a woman's wedding expenses topped $20,000, she was 3.5 times more likely to get divorced than a woman whose wedding cost between $5,000 and $10,000.

These findings suggest a correlation, rather than a causative relationship. Other factors may also contribute to the apparently heightened stress and divorce risk that couples face when they spend more money on their engagement rings and weddings. Still, the professors who conducted the research believe early marital debt, along with the associated stress, might often contribute to a couple's decision to divorce.

A growing number of couples may face this possible risk factor for divorce. According to The Huffington Post, weddings have become more elaborate - and potentially expensive - over the last few decades. Today, according to CNBC, one wedding industry source quotes the price of the average U.S. wedding at about $30,000. If the study findings are valid, this means that the average newly married couple may face a high risk of divorcing.

Debt distribution issues

Unfortunately, debt can complicate a divorce as much as it can create strife in a marriage. Debt acquired before a marriage is considered separate property, so it stays with the responsible spouse. Marital loans and joint debts, meanwhile, are divided equitably between spouses. Correctly characterizing and dividing debt while taking separate assets and debts into account can be challenging.

Court documents from one Mississippi divorce case state that equitable distribution does not imply equal distribution. To find an equitable distribution, family law judges may consider various factors, ranging from the financial standing of each spouse to the way each spouse contributed to or dissipated marital assets. Pre-existing debt that one or both spouses brought into the marriage may be a relevant consideration when property is divided.

Debt division may become even more complicated if one spouse used marital earnings to pay down premarital debt. Once separate and marital assets have been mixed, or commingled, determining which assets each spouse is legally entitled to can be difficult.

Pursuing a fair settlement

Spouses who have accumulated significant separate or marital debt should consider speaking with a family law attorney before the divorce proceedings begin. An attorney may be able to help a spouse understand his or her rights and work toward an appropriate favorable settlement.

Keywords: divorce, property division, assets