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Could the Facebook IPO boost both marriage and divorce rates?

Facebook has become so prevalent in American life that the site is mentioned in an estimated 20 percent of divorce cases filed in Maryland and across the country. The social networking site is notorious for enabling the bad behavior of husbands and wives, whether it be in looking up past flames, making new online 'friends' or simply having inappropriate online conversations that undermine trust between spouses. However, the recent speculation about Facebook, marriage and divorce has nothing to do with how people choose to use the site.

When the social media giant went public on May 18, an estimated 800 people were made into instant millionaires. This sudden influx of wealth has both wedding planners and divorce attorneys on guard for a flood of new business as existing relationships feel the shockwaves of their new financial reality. Many of the newly minted millionaires are Facebook employees in their 20s and 30s, and wedding planners say that their newfound financial security will make many eager to settle down and start families.

Others, however, believe that there is an even greater chance that many unhappy couples will file for divorce on the heels of the Facebook windfall. One Nobel prize-winning economist explains the prediction with cold, hard reason. He believes that many people who find themselves suddenly wealthy will feel that they now have the ability to upgrade their spouse to someone they find more attractive or appealing.

Aside from the psychology of choosing divorce just after finding wealth, there are some very practical reasons for the timing. Maryland residents who held stock interest in the company knew that there would be no way to accurately value that interest until the IPO was complete. After May 18, their financial picture became much clearer, and the process of dividing marital assets was simplified. Whether they are looking to tie the knot or dissolve the bond, couples who profited from Facebook's IPO may be finding it much easier to change their relationship status.

Source:, "Divorce lawyer or wedding planner? Facebook IPO gives both plenty of hope," June 3, 2012

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