Why One Study Suggests Divorce Might Be Caused by Nature, Not Nurture

Why One Study Suggests Divorce Might Be Caused by Nature, Not Nurture

Are the chances of your marriage ending in divorce written in your genetic code and predetermined even before your wedding day?  It is already accepted as fact that your chances of divorce are increased if you are the child of divorced parents.  But is this tendency the result of nurture – because you learned this behavior from watching your parents; or is it caused by nature – because you inherited an assortment of genes that lead to behaviors that are not compatible with marriage?

A new study published in Psychological Science by Jessica Salvatore and Kenneth Kendler, of the Virginia Institute for Psychiatric and Behavioral Genetics, indicates that, surprisingly enough, genes play an important role.

Whether your divorce situation is cause by nature or nurture, the chances are that it is a stressful and life-changing situation.  It pays to have a skilled attorney on your side to help you work through the issues and make sure you receive the best settlement possible, as the consequences will affect you and your children well into the future.

The skilled and compassionate Illinois family-law attorneys at Wolfe & Stec, Ltd. understand what you are going through and provide professional guidance to help you at every stage of the process during this difficult time. We offer a free consultation to examine your individual issues, so contact us online or call 630-305-0222 today.

What the Study Showed

For the study, the researchers explored data from the Swedish national registries that provided information on sex, year of birth and death, marital status, criminal activity, education and alcohol abuse, as well as details of both the biological and the adoptive parents of adopted children.

The researchers then analyzed the marriages of 19,715 adopted children to see how often these ended in divorce and whether that divorce rate bore any relationship to divorces among their adoptive and biological parents. The results showed that children were 20% more likely to divorce if their biological parents had divorced than if they had stayed together, but no more or less likely to do so if their adoptive parents had divorced.

Next, adopted and biological siblings brought up in the same households were examined, and it was found that people showed a similar tendency to divorce as their biological siblings but not their adopted siblings. Also, if one biological sibling divorced, the others were 20% more likely to do so, but there was no correlation for adoptive siblings.

These results suggest that genetic factors do play an important part in the incidence of divorce across generations, even if the individuals never knew their biological parents.

Divorce Options

Whether or not you have a family history of divorce does not change your individual situation, although it may be a factor to discuss if you go to counseling.  If you are considering divorce in Illinois, there is some basic information you should know:

Types of Divorce

Illinois divorce may take two forms:

Simplified divorce –useful for many short, childless marriages with relatively little wealth, property, and income.

Traditional divorce – the traditional divorce process in state court may involve a negotiated settlement or a trial to resolve issues.

Grounds for Divorce

Illinois recognizes divorce based on irreconcilable differences — neither party is blamed. Since January, 2016, there is no longer any mandatory separation period necessary, nor does fault have to be proven. In cases where both spouses do not agree to the divorce, a six-month separation is accepted as proof of irreconcilable differences, and the divorce may then proceed.

Division of Property

Illinois is an equitable distribution state — marital property is divided equitably, not necessarily equally. All property acquired after the marriage and before a judgment of dissolution of marriage is presumed to be marital property, and this is divided without regard to marital misconduct.

What if One Party Does Not Want a Divorce?

Illinois law allows a spouse to legally contest the grounds for the divorce, but does not require that the parties live together even if the divorce does not occur.

What if There is a Trial?

A trial involves preparation called “discovery,” an exchange of information where the contested issues are singled out and the assets, income, and debt of the parties are identified. Spouses present their side of the story to the judge through testimony, witnesses, exhibits and experts. The judge decides the issues regarding property, debt, spousal maintenance, and child custody and visitation.

What if I am Uncertain About the Divorce After Filing?

People may change their minds about divorce after the case is filed.  You have the option to reconcile on a “temporary” basis without dismissing the divorce case, or you can dismiss the divorce case and re-file it later if necessary.


Whether or not there is a genetic link in your divorce situation, the facts and circumstances of each case are different. Since the issues are complex and divorce procedure can be overwhelming, it makes sense to seek legal counsel to represent your interests.

The skilled Illinois family-law attorneys at Wolfe & Stec, Ltd. know the laws, the courts and the system and can guide you through every aspect of your divorce. Our fundamental success as a law firm has been in building quality relationships with our clients, and we put every ounce of our ability into every case.

There are no ready-made solutions in divorce and family law – every case needs to be considered on its own merit. Our lawyers take the time to delve deeply into the problems and to understand your goals and concerns and develop a legal strategy to achieve those objectives. We are dedicated to personal attention, responsiveness, and accessibility, and we have a long history of success.

Delaying can only complicate your situation and make matters worse. Call us today for your free consultation at 630-305-0222, or contact our team online.