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Jewish World Review April 17, 2001 / 24 Nissan, 5761

Mike Harden

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Consumer Reports

A magazine for those getting a divorce -- "DIVORCE is one of America's biggest growth industries," a divorce lawyer boasts in the 1980 film "The Last Married Couple in America."

In the two decades since the box-office debut of that movie, divorce rates may have dipped slightly, but the business of breaking up still represents one of the great, perpetual bull markets in the United States.

Now comes word that my native Ohio - so often portrayed as boringly staid and steadfast - may soon have a quarterly divorce magazine for couples in the process of splitting the sheets.

"It certainly looks like you have a high enough divorce rate and a large enough population to support a divorce magazine," said Diana Shepherd, editorial director of a Toronto-based periodical chain that has launched four such statewide or regional magazines in the past five years.

Editions of "Divorce Magazine" are being published for the Toronto area, Illinois, New York-New Jersey and Southern California.

Ohio logs an estimated 85,000 divorces or dissolutions annually, Shepherd said.

As a percentage of the population, she added, "Ohio actually has more divorces than Illinois."

An infusion of investment capital, she hopes, will allow her chain to set up shop in the Buckeye State in the not-too-distant future.

"It could be anywhere from nine months to two years," she said of the timetable.

Not unlike many other publications, Shepherd said, "Divorce Magazine confronted a few problems in its maiden years related to misperception and market placement.

Bookstores were uncertain where to display it - next to "Psychology Today" or beside "Guns & Ammo."

"We don't glorify divorce; we don't promote divorce," Shepherd said. "We don't say, 'Go out and get a divorce, and it will solve all your problems.' And we don't publish divorce-from-hell stories."

The latest issue features articles on friendships with exes, post-divorce parenthood and the views of "Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus" author John Gray.

It includes the advice column Dear Ivana, in which the "Sultana of Split-up" (as the magazine has christened the former Mrs. Trump) imparts her counsel to anguished correspondents who sign themselves "Confused in New York" or "Blameless in Chicago."

"Divorce" surveys, meanwhile, reveal more than a few intriguing statistics gleaned from those who have gone through the meat grinder of domestic relations court.

For example:

- 72 percent of divorcing women contend they never had an affair before they were separated.

- 24 percent admit having had one to four affairs.

- 4 percent report having had five or more affairs.

- 64 percent of divorcing men maintain they remained faithful while married.

- 29 percent confess to having had one to four affairs.

- 7 percent acknowledge having been involved in five or more affairs.

The magazine apparently didn't ask how many people lie to pollsters.

From culling data on divorce rates, Shepherd has learned that Ohio ranks just about in the middle of the 50 states (and the District of Columbia) - at No. 24.

Massachusetts, in first place, has the lowest rate of divorce. Nevada - predictably, at 51st - has the highest.

Yet, apparently, a ranking of 24th is good enough to put Ohio on the divorce-periodical map.

Should it eventually reach the Buckeye State, "Divorce" won't cost you anything.

It will be found in the "free" rack at the supermarket - right next to an apartment guide to help you find a place to live after you've gathered all of your clothes from the front lawn.

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© 2001, SHNS