When we write about divorce on our Atlanta family law blog, we often talk about the legal process or the end product of a split. It is rare that we discuss the weeks, days and moments leading up to a couple's decision to end their marriage. But like many other areas of divorce and family law, it seems that the start of the process may be changing too.

One example of this is gender; specifically, whether husbands or wives are more likely to initiate the divorce process. For many years, the common stereotype has been that it is husbands who suddenly decide to leave their families and file for divorce. However, that appears to no longer be the case. Now, women are more likely than men to start the divorce process, and men are increasingly caught off-guard by and unhappy about that decision.

In the study, AARP researchers interviewed about 1,000 divorced men and women ranging in age from 40 to 79. About two-thirds of the survey participants said that the wife had initiated the divorce, as well as a large majority of legal and physical separations.

Researchers also found that the male respondents were more likely than women to be surprised by their spouse's request for a split. Approximately one-fourth of men reported that they "never saw it coming," compared to less than one-sixth of women.

Despite the fact that women are more likely to have financial and mental health issues in the wake of a divorce, the study also found that woman are more likely than men to be happy after their split and confident in their decision. About 75 percent of women reported that their divorce was the right move for them, compared to 65 percent of men.

Source: newminer.com, "Divorce's gender gap," Judith Kleinfeld, June 22, 2012