Can engagement ring and wedding spending affect your risk of divorcing?

Couples who spend more on their engagement rings and weddings may be at a greater risk for financial stress and eventual divorce.

Many couples in Fort Worth dream of planning the perfect wedding or finding the ideal engagement ring to symbolize their marital commitment. These couples may believe that, if anything, spending more on these items reflects their investment in the relationship and their likelihood of long-term happiness. However, one new study suggests that the opposite is true: couples who spend less on these things are more likely to stay married, while couples who spend more are more likely to divorce.

A source of stress

Professors from Emory University reached this conclusion after surveying 3,000 people who had been married at least once in the past. The survey results indicate spending more on the wedding or engagement ring may significantly affect marital happiness and longevity:

  • Compared to women who spent between $10,000 and $20,000 on the wedding, women with weddings that cost more than $20,000 were 3.5 times more likely to get divorced.
  • Financial stress was as much as 93 percent less likely for women who spent less than $1,000 on their weddings.
  • Compared to men who spent $500 to $2,000 on engagement rings, men who spent between $2,000 and $4,000 had a 1.3 times greater risk of divorcing.
  • Women were three times more likely to worry about wedding-related debt if they received engagement rings worth more than $2,000.

Researchers noted that spending more on weddings has become common over the last several decades. Similarly, the amount of time that people are expected to commit to planning their weddings has increased, suggesting that weddings have become more complex and potentially costly over the years.

Unfortunately, this trend toward greater spending may place many newly married couples under significant financial stress, which may raise the risk of strife and even divorce. If this is the case, couples may also face the stress of a financially complex divorce involving both property and debt division.

Dividing assets, liabilities in Texas

When couples in Texas divorce, state law requires community property to be divided in a fair manner. Most property obtained during the marriage is considered community property, except for gifts, inheritances and certain personal injury damages. However, liabilities accrued during the marriage are not typically divided in the same way.

A spouse can only be held liable for the other spouse’s debts if the debts were incurred to purchase “necessary” things, such as food and shelter, or if one spouse was acting as an agent for the other. Generally, spouses cannot be held liable for separate debt that was accrued before the marriage. Still, determining liability can be complex.

People preparing for divorces in which property division will likely be complicated, due to factors such as high-value assets or significant debt, may want to consult with a family law attorney before beginning the process. An attorney can provide advice on the relevant state laws and potential outcomes of the divorce proceedings. In fact, a pre-marital agreement might avoid property issues in the event of a divorce action, and could very well assist in estate planning.

Keywords: divorce, separation, property