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Tri-State differences in marriages, divorces

March 09, 2000|By ANDREW SCHOTZ

Nationwide, about two couples get a marriage license for every couple that gets a divorce.

The Tri-State area, however, does not match the average.

In Maryland, the ratio is higher. Pennsylvania's rate is a little lower than the national rate.

And in West Virginia, the ratio is just above one-to-one.

The disparities are even greater at the county level.

For example, in 1996, there were 3.67 marriage licenses per divorce in Washington County.

In Berkeley County, W.Va., that year, there were fewer marriage licenses than divorces (.88 marriage licenses per 1 divorce).

Franklin County, Pa., had 1.28 marriage licenses per divorce that same year.

For the most part, the county, state and federal agencies that keep track of the data don't analyze it or try to explain trends.

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Divorce lawyer Arthur Boyce, whose office is in Frederick, Md., but who also practices in West Virginia and Pennsylvania, said he doesn't know why the rates change regionally.

"It's more of a social issue," he said.

Most people have to wait longer before they can file for divorce in Maryland than the other two states, but that wouldn't stop someone from getting a divorce, he said.

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