It has been repeated so often that it has become practically folklore: 50 percent of marriages in the U.S. end in divorce, as we have all heard.

Perhaps this was true once, but is it still the case? Do our marriages have no better than a 50/50 shot at lasting the rest of our lives?

At least one expert thinks the statistic is inaccurate. A couples therapist recently said in an interview with Time Warner Cable News in Buffalo that he believes the U.S. divorce rate has gone down in recent years.

He cited statements by other divorce experts referencing the fact that more couples are living together without being married. When a cohabiting couple breaks up, it is not a divorce so it does not get counted as one.

Also, people are waiting longer to get married, which may lead to a better match when they do tie the knot. Being unmarried in your late 20s and 30s is no longer considered to be a problem.

Some trends affecting the divorce rate are less tied to relaxed cultural norms. The therapist said that finances keep many unhappy couples together. If the couple is barely making ends meet with two incomes, the prospect of living on a single paycheck may seem impossible.

These trends are not exactly secret. So why does the mythical 50 percent figure persist in the public imagination? The therapist blames popular culture. Celebrity gossip and reality TV shows create the perception that divorce is going up, he said.

Whether divorce is as common as it used to be, or is becoming more rare, it is still a reality for many married people in Buffalo. To ensure that the process is as fair and painless as possible, it is important that both spouses are represented by experienced divorce attorneys.