Marriages can be stressful for anyone. But doctors face an unusual amount of work related stress including long hours, demanding patients, stressful working conditions, social demands, and perhaps unrealistic expectations about how work and family life could be balanced.
Despite the added pressures, there are no reliable statistics to suggest that rates of divorce among physicians differ from any other profession. This is probably a testament to the fact that most physicians are extraordinary individuals with strong commitments to both work and family.
Despite this, doctors face the same divorce rate as everyone else- somewhere in the 49% to 50% range. Interestingly though, among physicians there seems to be a great disparity of divorce rates based on sex and practice specialty.
According to one US study, psychiatrists have the highest rate of divorce, with surgeons as the next most likely to divorce.
A 2003 study by Dr. Gail Robinson of the Toronto General Hospital into stresses faced by women doctors found that “rates of successful suicide and divorce are much higher” than the general public.
Dr. Wayne Sotile, a clinical psychologist who treats physicians in Winston-Salem, NC says his clinical experience bears this out.
“The burnout and divorce rate for women MDs is higher”, says Dr. Sotile. He also notes that the most angry and disgruntled group he encounters are young men married to physicians. He states that tensions felt by both parties about the gender role reversals creates difficulty in the marriages.
Interestingly, it appears that doctors married to other doctors have a much lower incidence of divorce. A 2002 study found that they have a relatively low divorce rate of 11%. This may be because each spouse understands the demands of being a physician.
Yet, despite these variances, physicians overall are involved in divorce cases at least as much as the general populace. However, the complexity of their divorce cases is usually much higher than people in other professions. This is because of the need to value creative or complex businesses that physicians often create for their practices, the need to assess the community interest in complex portfolios, and the need to have tailored solutions in divorce decrees.
Because of these added complexities, physicians or spouses of physicians should consult with divorce attorneys who are experienced in dealing with divorces in which at least one of the parties are a doctor. If your case is in the Houston/Galveston area, the author’s law firm, The Palmer Law Firm is experienced in dealing with these types of divorce.