Is Divorce Harder for Mothers Than Fathers?

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It’s a common conception that, even though men and women are in the same situation, they’re experiencing it in different ways and varying degrees. Gender-based discrimination is very much integrated into the system at school, work, politics, socioeconomics, etc. The same can be said about going through a divorce. Yes, divorce is hard for both the husband and the wife. But multiple studies and surveys have shown through the years that women, especially the mothers, find it much harder to cope with the negative effects of divorce.

According to the Institute for Family Studies (IFS), in every one thousand marriages in the United States, almost 15 of them end up getting divorced. Staying happily married is getting much harder in the last few years. In 2019 alone, the marriage rate had hit the lowest rate that the country has seen in the last 50 years.

Many publications have reported that divorce is much harder on women. For example, ABC News reported that women’s quality of life goes down to 45 percent after going through a divorce. Here’s how their lives change and how they face greater challenges than their divorced husbands.

Mental and Emotional Distress

Mental and emotional distress on children of divorced parents is very common. The children, even at such a young age, have to come to terms with their parents not living in the same home, not seeing them both every day, and not spending time together. But mothers also experience great mental and emotional distress because of divorce.

The mental and emotional distress starts even before the process of divorce was put into motion. That distress climbs even higher if the divorce goes to trial. This is why many clients value much-needed judicial arbitration and mediation services. The most capable of lawyers are able to put the legal issue to bed even before going to trial was brought up.

For example, a study published in the Journal of Health and Social Behavior found that there are higher rates of depressive symptoms in divorced women than in divorced men. These high rates may be attributed to many things. Some of them are the stigma of divorce on women and child-rearing responsibilities. Both of these will be discussed in greater detail later on.

Insufficient Financial Support

When it comes to alimony, the common misconception is that divorced husbands pay it to support their divorced wives. But, in the last few years, that’s no longer true. A survey conducted by the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers (AAML) found that 45 percent of lawyers in the United States had seen more women paying alimonies to men. This is because there are more women who have flourishing careers. Thus, they bring in a higher income to the household than their husbands.

But even with this information, there are still many divorced women who are living at or below the poverty line. The Center for American Progress found that one in four (24.7 percent, to be specific) unmarried mothers live in poverty.

Exhaustion and Stress

Even if many women are now bearing the breadwinner positions in the household, many of them are still heavily burdened by child-rearing duties. So, after going through a divorce, more often than not, they get custody of their children. Yes, many of them would prefer to have their children closer to them. But this doesn’t mean that they don’t experience exhaustion and stress because of this.

Because they went through a divorce, they become single parents in just the blink of an eye. Many of them may be financially equipped. But this doesn’t mean that they’re fully ready to carry the heavy duties of a single parent.

couple sitting far away from each other on the couch

Gender-based Stigma

Yes, divorce is fairly common in societies in the United States. But this doesn’t mean that there isn’t a stigma attached to it. In the most conservative communities, divorce is often considered a failure of the married couple. But divorced mothers often bear the brunt of this stigma.

According to a study published in the Journal of Divorce & Remarriage, stigma on divorce lead to greater mental and emotional distress on women. This stigma is often influenced by perceptions of blame, religion, and contextual considerations. Thus, many women lost friends and overall social support system because of the divorce. They also find it hard to reach out to mental health professionals for help.

Understanding the hardships that divorced mothers face is crucial. This way, we’ll know exactly what kind of support that they need how we can help them. They are, after all, part of a faction of our communities that are hit the hardest by systemic injustices.

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