As Western societies have seen an increase in women’s financial independence alongside evolving cultural norms, divorce has gone from taboo to acceptable, with almost 45% of marriages ending in divorce in the U.S.
The United States has the sixth highest divorce rate, with 40% to 50% of married couples filing for divorce. Or, to put it another way, in the average time it takes a couple to recite their vows, two minutes, three couples have divorced. Over the last decade, the average divorce rate has gone down across the country with a few notable exceptions, like Illinois and Mississippi, which have seen an increase in filings.
In Western heterosexual partnerships, women tend to initiate divorce more frequently than men, with surveys indicating a lack of emotional support from their partner as the impetus for filing. According to the census, nearly twice as many Americans marry than divorce, suggesting that most Americans are romantics at heart.
Divorce Statistics in the United States
While it’s still unclear how the pandemic has impacted the divorce rate, it has been trending downward over the past ten years. However, it’s not just the divorce rate. The marriage rate has also dropped nationally. Some folks are staying single longer or just not getting married at all. Although divorce rates vary widely depending on race, age, and median income, regional trends and other common contributing factors emerge.
How many marriages end in divorce because of in-laws?
Whether it’s a nosy mother-in-law who won’t stop giving you their unsolicited opinion or a father-in-law who can’t stop bringing up politics at the dinner table, in-laws create a lot of tension in marriages that many couples struggle to rebound from. Consistently across studies, issues with extended families are often cited as a reason for divorce. According to a 2013 survey that followed 36 couples, conflict within the family is cited as a top three reason for divorce, with 57.7% of couples identifying this as the grounds for divorce.
How many marriages end in divorce because of infidelity?
Infidelity is consistently listed as one of the primary reasons marriages end in divorce in America. According to the American Psychological Association (APA), a partner’s infidelity accounts for 20-40% of divorces in the U.S. The APA also cited that 42% of divorced individuals reported more than one affair during their marriage. A study published by the National Institute of Health (NIH) shows that one partner in 88% of couples cited infidelity as a major contributing factor to divorce.
How many marriages end in divorce because of financial problems?
From mismatched financial priorities to opposing attitudes on handling money, money stirs up a lot of trouble for married couples, and financial issues are repeatedly listed as a primary reason for divorce. Whether it’s your partner’s creeping credit card debt or their inability to stick to a budget, financial problems often underlie a core communication problem between partners. It’s estimated that around 54% of couples consider their partner’s debt as a basis for divorce. A survey from U.S. News & World Report confirms that money-related lies from secretive purchases, hiding debts, and dishonesty about income put undue stress on married couples and often lead to divorce.
Which occupations have the highest divorce rate?
When financial strain and infidelity are some of the top issues married couples fight about, certain professions seem destined to end in divorce. And the data does support this theory. Statistician Nathan Yau analyzed the 2015 U.S. Census to calculate the professions with the highest and lowest divorce rates. Yau found that jobs with lower pay or occupations in declining industries correlate to a higher percentage of those couples divorcing. Professions like gaming managers, flight attendants, and bartenders were some of the occupations with the highest divorce rate. Those in higher-paying jobs with more stability fared better long term in their marriages. In contrast, those in industries with high turnover and varying levels of job satisfaction were strong indicators for divorce.
States with the highest divorce rates
Some states tend to have a higher rate of divorce than others. The top five states for divorce are Arkansas, Oklahoma, Nevada, New Mexico, and Kentucky. Meanwhile, Maine, South Dakota, and New York top the list of the best states to make a marriage work.
Do I Need a Divorce Attorney?
Whether or not you’ll need an attorney depends on the specifics of your situation. Every marriage is unique. What is best for one couple may not be for you. Some guidelines can help you make an informed decision, but a general rule is the more you can work out with your ex before going to the courts, the more time and money you’ll save in the long run. There are many advantages to working directly with your spouse if you can. If you and your spouse can work together to resolve legal issues, then you can generally ask the court to grant you a divorce in writing. An uncontested divorce doesn’t necessarily require an attorney. In the case of a contentious split, an attorney can mediate between parties to reach an equitable settlement.
Protect your rights
Even if you and your spouse agree on the terms of your divorce, a lawyer can protect your rights and interests. This guarantees legal recourse if one party doesn’t abide by the divorce arrangement. If you believe your spouse may be lying about certain issues, an attorney has the resources to verify the information to make sure your divorce settlement is accurate. Additionally, a lawyer can make sure the agreement will be accepted by the court and that no issues are overlooked that could arise in the future.
Trying to work with your ex after a split can be near impossible, and an attorney can provide a clear perspective to help you and your spouse make arrangements. If your spouse has already hired an attorney or is fighting you on minor issues, an attorney is your best bet over a mediator. A lawyer can advocate for your best interests and mediate between you and your ex to reach a successful settlement. A lawyer can represent your side during mediation and communicate directly with your spouse.
Domestic Abuse Support
Anyone facing domestic violence during divorce should work with a divorce lawyer. The pandemic saw an alarming increase in reported domestic violence incidents in nearly every major American city. During the lockdown, the National Domestic Violence Hotline received more calls than in its 25-year history, and it can be challenging to get support. A lawyer can help you file a temporary restraining order and get you in touch with local resources to ensure your safety during the divorce process. The totality of the COVID-19 lockdown’s impact on intimate partner relationships is still unclear. However, an attorney can be your best advocate while you’re in the process of leaving an abusive partner.
Resources for Folks Going Through a Divorce
If you’re going through a divorce, an attorney is not the only resource available, and many online communities are dedicated to helping people process and heal from divorce. If children are involved, there’s a ton of co-parenting advice available online, along with some useful apps that can get you organized.
Association of Family and Conciliation Courts
For parents interested in how to minimize the divorce’s impact on their children, the Association of Family and Conciliation Courts (AFCC) has multiple guides and pamphlets to help parents navigate their family separation cases. There’s a template for Parenting Plans and specific guides for stepparents, long-distance parenting, and making your parenting plan work with your ex.
Our Family Wizard
Coordinating parenting schedules and medical appointments can be overwhelming, but Our Family Wizard aims to take the stress out of co-parenting with their popular app. It’s the #1 court-recommended co-parenting app to streamline shared expenses, set boundaries around communication, and reduce conflict. They even have an option to “tone-check” your messages through ToneMeter, which identifies and flags emotionally charged phrases to empower productive, low-conflict conversations with your ex.
Children's Bill of Rights in Divorce
To help children cope with divorce, read the Children’s Bill of Rights in a Divorce and consider agreeing to this shared agreement. Divorce is a stressful process, and children deserve present parents who are considerate of their needs throughout every step.
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Scott Levin is a family law attorney mediator in San Diego California known as the Chief PeaceKeeper™. As the leading divorce mediation lawyer in California, Scott leverages an eclectic background in law, business and finance to aid families through his expertise in family and divorce mediation. Passionate and dedicated to aiding clients resolve conflict outside of court, Scott Levin helps clients amicably divorce in California by working to bring about settlement terms, drafting the marital settlement agreements and filing the court forms. Scott also helps with post-judgment modifications as well as prenuptial and postnuptial marital agreements.