The primary determinant of whether it’s the husband or the wife who files for divorce is who gets the kids — and women are far more likely to get custody than men:
Our results are consistent with our hypothesis that filing behavior is driven by self-interest at the time of divorce. Individuals file for divorce when there are marital assets that may be appropriated through divorce, as in the case of leaving when they have received the benefit of educational investments such as advanced degrees. However, individuals may also file when they are being exploited within the marriage, as when the other party commits a major violation of the marriage contract, such as cruelty. Interestingly, though, cruelty amounts to only 6% of all divorce filings in Virginia.
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Source: “’These Boots Are Made for Walking’: Why Most Divorce Filers Are Women” from American Law and Economics Association