Divorce Rate Myths & More: 5 Key Findings From the Statistics (2022)

Statistics about divorce in the U.S. can be confusing if not contradictory, but you can begin to make sense of them here.

You might run across some divorce statistics that seem worrying, hopeful, or just plain confusing. That could be because the numbers often tell contradictory or incomplete stories about the current state of marriage and divorce.

To make sense of this baffling picture, we pored over government reports, research studies, and expert analysis of the data (all listed below). Here are the highlights of what we learned about the rates and consequences of divorce. (See our separate article for what we learned about the most common reasons people get divorced.)

1. Divorce Rates Are Not Plummeting

Spend any time looking at divorce statistics online, and you're likely to read that divorce rates have been falling every year since a peak in the early 1980s. But the real picture is more complicated than that.

Fewer Couples Are Getting Married in the First Place

Data from the U.S. Census Bureau shows that the proportion of adults who are married is at an all-time low. Fewer marriages mean fewer divorces—not necessarily that fewer marriages are ending in divorce.

Divorce Rates for Older Couples Are Still Climbing

In a trend known as "gray divorce," the divorce rates for people over age 50 have roughly doubled since the 1990s, according to several studies based on Census Bureau data. And at least one study found a similar increase for couples over 35—but steady or decreasing rates of divorce for younger couples.

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Divorce Rates Are Affected by Age at Marriage, Education, and Class

One reason for lower divorce rates among younger couples is that people are waiting longer to get married than they used to do. (The median, or midpoint, age at which people marry for the first time has gone up seven years in the past 50 years.) And research consistently shows that delaying your first marriage lowers your risk of divorce.

Education levels also affect the likelihood of divorce: Divorce rates are lowest among college graduates and highest for those who didn't finish high school.

Finally, poor and working-class adults are both more likely to have experienced divorce and less likely to get married than those in the middle and upper classes

All of this points to a widening (and worrying) divide between people with the resources to get a degree and raise their earnings before they marry—which leads to longer marriages—and people who can't afford those options.

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Regional Differences in Divorce Rates Mostly Track Marriage Trends

States across the U.S. have different rates of divorce, but those variations generally follow the observation that fewer marriages and delayed marriage lead to fewer divorces. Based on population, divorce rates in the Northeast, Upper Midwest, and California tend to be lower than the national rate. At the same time, those states also tend to have lower marriage rates and a higher median age at first marriage.

Of the five states with the most divorces per person in 2019, four (Missouri, Oklahoma, Nevada, and Kentucky) had higher-than-average marriage rates. Arkansas—with the highest divorce rate in the country—had a marriage rate close to the national level, but it ranked near the bottom of the states in terms of the median age at first marriage.

2. The Kids Might Be All Right

If you have children and are wondering whether to put an end to a troubled marriage, one of your biggest worries is likely whether—and how much and for how long—a divorce will hurt the kids. Unfortunately, this is an area where it's especially hard to find solid answers based on reliable statistics.

For one thing, it's difficult (and expensive) to carry out longitudinal studies in which researchers follow the same families for years to see how children adjust after their parents get divorced. Instead, most studies simply compare the children of recently divorced couples with kids from intact families. But that's like comparing apples and oranges.

Divorced couples are more likely to have experienced high levels of conflict and stress when they were still married, and that conflict and stress would have affected their children long before the breakup. So it's not surprising that much of the older research shows higher rates of academic, emotional, and behavioral problems among children of divorce, with too little attention paid to the negative effects of troubled marriages on kids.

Also, some of kids' post-divorce trauma could be due to events around the divorce—like moving, changing schools, or new financial constraints—rather than the divorce itself.

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Most parents who've been through a divorce will confirm that it can be stressful on the entire family, especially in the short term. But some research has picked away at the doomsday portrayal of the effect of divorce on children. Among the insights from these studies:

  • Time to heal. While the run-up to divorce and its immediate aftermath can be traumatic, most children seem to adjust well within two years after their parents get divorced.
  • High vs. low conflict. Several studies have shown that children from high-conflict families actually do better after divorce than before. And while children from low-conflict marriages tend to be more negatively affected in the immediate aftermath of divorce, that pattern could, at least partly, be a result of the surprise factor if their parents haven't prepared them for the change.
  • Co-parenting time. Children tend to adjust better to divorce when they continue to have close relationships with noncustodial parents. That doesn't simply mean weekly pizza nights. It means time with normal parent-child interactions like helping with homework, assigning chores, and talking over problems.
  • Resilience. Some studies point to the special strengths shown by children living in single-parent households, such as self-reliance, self-confidence, and maturity.

3. How You Approach Divorce Matters

Statistics on the consequences of divorce often miss one important principle: The way you approach divorce—with cooperation and compromise or with legal fights over every detail—can make a big difference in how it affects both you and your children.

Reaching a Settlement Agreement Reduces Dissatisfaction With Divorce

Bitter, contested divorces not only lead to higher divorce costs, but they make it more likely that recently divorced people will be left frustrated and unhappy about the process. For example, in a survey we conducted of people who had recently ended a marriage, over 60% of those who went to trial were dissatisfied with the outcome of their divorce cases. On the flip side, just under 40% of the couples who resolved their disputes through a settlement agreement were dissatisfied.

The Effect of Mediation on Parents and Children

Many couples turn to divorce mediation for help reaching a settlement. Research has shown that those who went to mediation to resolve child custody issues were more likely to believe that their parenting arrangements were fair and would be good for the whole family, compared to those who had a litigated divorce (meaning they fought out those issues through the traditional legal process for a contested divorce).

And a study that followed up with families for 12 years after divorce found that when couples used mediation for custody disputes, the "nonresident" parents (who didn't live with their children) had more contact with their kids than nonresident parents who had litigated custody issues. In fact, compared to the litigating group, the nonresident parents who had used mediation were:

  • more than three times as likely to see their children weekly (28% versus 9%), and
  • more than four times as likely to speak with their kids every week (59% versus 14%).

The nonresident parents who used mediation were also less likely to skip out on paying child support and, as reported by the resident parents, were more involved in co-parenting activities like discipline, talking about problems, and attending school functions.

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4. Divorce Effects on Men vs. Women Are Mixed

Conventional wisdom is that men suffer more from divorce in terms of their health and emotional well-being, while women suffer more economically. Data from the Census Bureau and multiple studies do show that women experience greater financial losses after divorce than men; the post-divorce drop in their standard of living or household income is about twice that of men's. Given the persistent wage gap between men and women, this isn't terribly surprising.

However, the results are inconsistent when it comes to gender differences in the other consequences of divorce, and some studies suggest that the longer-term health and psychological effects of divorce are pretty much the same for men and women.

5. It Gets Better

As the number of divorces in the U.S. spiked in the 1970s, the stigma around ending a marriage started to fall. Still, the subtle persistence of that stigma shows up in studies appearing to prove that people are unhappier after they get divorced. Here again, many of these studies don't follow the same people at regular intervals over time.

But one large study, based on detailed annual surveys of psychological well-being, showed that people were better off two years after divorce than they were two years before their marriage ended. (The study measured specifics on sleep, concentration, decision-making, confidence, and happiness). For those who were stressed and unhappy as their marriages were falling apart, getting divorce apparently "worked"—at least in terms of improving their psychological well-being.

Divorce Statistics and You

Of course, the decision whether to get divorced or to stay in your marriage is deeply personal, and it depends on your unique circumstances. In other words, statistics showing general trends of other people's experiences can tell you only so much when it comes to deciding what you think will be best for you. Still, we hope that the information we've gathered here can help frame some of the issues you might be thinking about as you consider the future of your family.

FAQs

What are the 5 most common causes of divorce? ›

Overall, the results indicate that the most often cited reasons for divorce at the individual level were lack of commitment (75.0%), infidelity (59.6%), and too much conflict and arguing (57.7%), followed by marrying too young (45.1%), financial problems (36.7%), substance abuse (34.6%), and domestic violence (23.5%).

What are the factors leading to increased rate of divorce? ›

According to various studies, the three most common causes of divorce are conflict, arguing, irretrievable breakdown in the relationship, lack of commitment, infidelity, and lack of physical intimacy. The least common reasons are lack of shared interests and incompatibility between partners.

What is the rate of divorce in the world? ›

If you look it up online, the divorce rates around the world is 4.08 per 1,000 married persons as of May 2022. Divorce is becoming more widespread in today's society.

What is the trend in divorce rates? ›

Divorce Statistics into 2022

This is a significant decline in the number of marriages with a corresponding decline in divorces. Divorce Trend #3: Marriage rate will continue to fall below the current rate of 6.1 per 1,000. Divorce rate will continue to fall below the current rate of 2.7 per 1,000.

What are the top 3 reasons for divorce? ›

  • Infidelity, lack of communication, financial troubles, and sparing sex and intimacy sessions are some of the common reasons for divorce.
  • Anger and resentment are common underlying reasons for cheating, along with differences in sexual appetite and lack of emotional intimacy.
30 Sept 2021

What is the leading cause of divorce in the United States? ›

It is no surprise, then, that marital infidelity is a leading cause of divorce. Just how common is marital infidelity? According to a study from the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy, as many as 25 percent of married men and 15 percent of married women have had extramarital affairs.

What race has the highest divorce rate? ›

  • All racial-ethnic groups had more marriages than divorces. ...
  • Black women were the only group that had a higher divorce rate than marriage rate, with nearly 31 divorces per 1,000 married women aged 15 and older and only 17.3 marriages per 1,000 unmarried women.
6 Apr 2021

Which country is No 1 in divorce? ›

Luxembourg: 87 per cent

And right now, it's also the top country with the highest divorce rate in the world.

Who has the highest rate of divorce in the world? ›

The Maldives has the highest divorce rate in the world, with 5.52 divorces per 1,000 people per year.

Which country has the highest divorce rate 2022? ›

Below are the countries that have the most divorces:
  • Maldives – 5.52 divorces per 1000 people. ...
  • Russia – 4.2 divorces per 1000 people. ...
  • Guam – 4.2 divorces per 1000 people. ...
  • Moldova – 3.7 divorces per 100 people. ...
  • Belarus – 3.4 divorces per 100 people. ...
  • Latvia – 3.1 divorces per 1000 people.
31 Mar 2022

Are divorce rates increasing 2022? ›

Decreased Divorce Rates in the COVID Era

Some predict pent-up divorce demand will lead to an overall spike in divorce in 2022 and beyond. Other studies suggest that marital commitment and stability increased during the pandemic.

What is the divorce rate 2021? ›

Every 13 seconds, there is one divorce in America. *That equates to 277 divorces per hour, 6,646 divorces per day, 46,523 divorces per week, and 2,419,196 divorces per year.

Has the divorce rate decreased? ›

The divorce rate has increased since 1960. But since 1990, there has been a downward trend in divorce statistics. This suggests divorce rates over time are changing drastically, as are marriage and cohabitation trends.

What defines a sexless marriage? ›

A sexless marriage is a marital union in which little or no sexual activity occurs between the two spouses. The US National Health and Social Life Survey in 1992 found that 2% of the married respondents (aged 18 to 59) reported no sexual intimacy in the past year.

Who initiates divorce more? ›

A study led by the American Sociological Association determined that nearly 70% of divorces are initiated by women. And the percentage of college-educated American women who initiated divorce is even higher.

What causes marriage failure? ›

Betrayal leads to the breakdown of all of the bonds that hold a relationship together: emotional, physical, spiritual. The trust, respect, loyalty, and communication are so damaged that many couples decide to divorce because they can't find a way to get past the betrayal.

Who files divorce more? ›

Women are more likely to initiate a divorce than men. However, over the past 20 years the proportion of joint applicants for divorce has been increasing, while the proportion of applications by only the male or only the female has decreased.

What year of marriage is divorce most common? ›

While there are countless divorce studies with conflicting statistics, the data points to two periods during a marriage when divorces are most common: years 1 – 2 and years 5 – 8. Of those two high-risk periods, there are two years in particular that stand out as the most common years for divorce — years 7 and 8.

What percentage of sexless marriages end in divorce? ›

Sexless marriage and divorce rates

According to some data, the divorce rate is around 50%. Although many might ponder divorce due to sexless marriage or lack of intimacy and wonder when to walk away from a sexless marriage, we are unsure if a lack of sex is a valid reason for divorce.

Why is divorce so common in today's society? ›

Perhaps the most egregious reason people divorce is one spouse is the victim of abuse in one form or another. Abuse can mean domestic violence occurred during the relationship or substance abuse. Our office represents many clients of domestic violence. Domestic violence goes beyond bruises and broken bones.

What percentage of marriages are happy? ›

Indeed, married people are happier than unmarried people: across nearly five decades of surveys, data from the GSS shows that 36% of people who have ever been married (including divorced, separated, and widowed people) say they are “very happy” while just 11% are “not too happy,” compared to 22% and 15% for people who ...

What did Bible say about divorce? ›

But I say to you, whoever divorces his wife (unless the. marriage is unlawful) causes her to commit adultery, and whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery. Divorce is discussed in several other parts of the Bible.

What religion gets divorced the most? ›

Marital status by religious group
Religious traditionMarriedDivorced/separated
Buddhist39%10%
Catholic52%12%
Evangelical Protestant55%14%
Hindu60%5%
8 more rows

Which culture has the lowest divorce rate? ›

Guatemala: 0.4 Divorces per 1,000 People

Guatemala has the lowest divorce rate out of all the countries globally, boasting only 0.3 divorces for every 1,000 population.

What age is divorce most common? ›

The average age for people going through a divorce for the first time is 30 years old. According to a recent report, more than half, or 60%, of divorces involve spouses who are between the ages of 25 and 39. However, while 30 is the average age, the divorce rate for people over 50 has doubled since 1990.

How can we reduce the divorce rate? ›

10 tips for preventing divorce
  1. Make time to connect lovingly with your spouse every day. ...
  2. Compliment your spouse regularly—both in private and in front of others. ...
  3. Love your spouse in the way he/she wants to be loved. ...
  4. Take care of your appearance. ...
  5. Remain faithful. ...
  6. Do things together. ...
  7. Spend time apart.
13 Jan 2003

What kind of marriage is most vulnerable to divorce? ›

Remarriages are about 2.5 times more likely to end in divorce than first marriages. People are living longer and are no longer satisfied with relationships deemed insufficient to meet their emotional needs.

What is the shortest recorded marriage? ›

A couple in Kuwait reportedly got divorced after just three minutes in Kuwait last month, in what is believed to be the shortest marriage on record. The couple hadn't even left the courthouse where their nuptials had taken place when the woman tripped over and fell.

What country doesn't have divorce? ›

Every nation in the world allows its residents to divorce under some conditions except the Philippines (though Muslims in the Philippines have the right to divorce) and the Vatican City, an ecclesiastical sovereign city-state, which has no procedure for divorce.

Who's the most married person? ›

Most married woman in the world: Linda Wolfe holds record for being the most married woman in the world. She was married 23 times. Her first marriage at 16 was for love. Her last, in 1996 was for publicity.

What is the hardest year of marriage? ›

According to relationship therapist Aimee Hartstein, LCSW, as it turns out, the first year really is the hardest—even if you've already lived together. In fact, it often doesn't matter if you've been together for multiple years, the start of married life is still tricky.

What percentage of married couples are unhappy? ›

One poll finds that about six in ten of us are unhappily coupled, four out of ten say they have considered leaving their partner and one in ten don't even trust their partner anymore.

How long does the average marriage last? ›

What is the average length of marriage? On average, the length of a marriage in the U.S. is seven to eight years. Some states have a higher rate than others, but the divorce rate for the country is around 50%.

Which country has lowest marriage rate? ›

French Guiana followed with one marriage more than Qatar (2.4).
...
Countries with the lowest marriage rates worldwide as of 2018 (marriages per 1,000 population)
CharacteristicNumber of marriages per 1,000 population
Qatar1.4
French Guiana2.4
Peru2.5
Venezuela2.6
9 more rows
5 Aug 2022

What country has the lowest average marriage age? ›

Out of all of the countries in the world, Chad has the youngest average age of first marriage at 19.2 years. Two African countries, Niger and Mozambique, come in the second and the third positions with 19.4 and 19.6 years respectively.

Which country has the lowest divorce rate 2022? ›

Guatemala (0.3%): Today, this country has the lowest rate of divorce out of all the countries of the world in that it boasts only 0.3% divorces per 1,000 people. This means that among 1,000 people together in this country, only 0.3 people have experience divorce in marriage.

What year of marriage is divorce most common? ›

While there are countless divorce studies with conflicting statistics, the data points to two periods during a marriage when divorces are most common: years 1 – 2 and years 5 – 8. Of those two high-risk periods, there are two years in particular that stand out as the most common years for divorce — years 7 and 8.

Who initiates divorce more? ›

A study led by the American Sociological Association determined that nearly 70% of divorces are initiated by women. And the percentage of college-educated American women who initiated divorce is even higher.

How long does the average marriage last? ›

What is the average length of marriage? On average, the length of a marriage in the U.S. is seven to eight years. Some states have a higher rate than others, but the divorce rate for the country is around 50%.

What is unreasonable behaviour in a marriage? ›

What is unreasonable behaviour? “Unreasonable behaviour” is the term used to describe the fact that a person has behaved in such a way that their partner/spouse cannot reasonably be expected to live with them.

Who gets divorced the most? ›

Wives are the ones who most often file for divorce at 66 percent on average. That figure has soared to nearly 75 percent in some years.

What occupation has the highest divorce rate? ›

Key findings
  • The type of job with the highest divorce rate is military work. ...
  • Following military workers, those who have a job in health care support have the next highest divorce rate. ...
  • Drilling down to the 100 most common individual occupations, bartenders top the list with a divorce rate of 4.34%.
28 Mar 2022

Who is least likely to get divorced? ›

Scholars have long known that youthful marriage is a strong predictor of divorce. For instance, someone who marries at 25 is over 50 percent less likely to get divorced than is someone who weds at age 20.

Who loses more in a divorce? ›

Marriage is connected to a longer lifespan for both men and women. While both genders see a rise in deaths following divorce, the rate for men is 1,773 per 100,000, compared to 1,096 for women.

What do we call a divorced woman? ›

divorcée. (dɪvɔːʳsiː ) Word forms: plural divorcées. countable noun. A divorcée is a woman who is divorced.

Are you happier after divorce? ›

The study found that on average unhappily married adults who divorced were no happier than unhappily married adults who stayed married when rated on any of 12 separate measures of psychological well-being. Divorce did not typically reduce symptoms of depression, raise self-esteem, or increase a sense of mastery.

What marriages last the longest? ›

The longest marriage recorded (although not officially recognized) is a granite wedding anniversary (90 years) between Karam and Kartari Chand, who both lived in the United Kingdom, but were married in India. Karam and Kartari Chand married in 1925 and died in 2016 and 2019 respectively.

What is the hardest year of marriage? ›

According to relationship therapist Aimee Hartstein, LCSW, as it turns out, the first year really is the hardest—even if you've already lived together. In fact, it often doesn't matter if you've been together for multiple years, the start of married life is still tricky.

Are most marriages happy? ›

Indeed, married people are happier than unmarried people: across nearly five decades of surveys, data from the GSS shows that 36% of people who have ever been married (including divorced, separated, and widowed people) say they are “very happy” while just 11% are “not too happy,” compared to 22% and 15% for people who ...

What can be used against you in a divorce? ›

Spending marital money on extramarital affairs. Transferring marital funds to another person before a separation. Spending unreasonable amounts on business expenditures. Selling marital assets below the market value.

What are the rights of a husband in a divorce? ›

Rights of Men in Divorce

The husband has a right to file a petition for divorce with or without mutual consent. For the latter, the grounds for filing remain the same as that for a wife. These include cruelty, desertion, conversion, adultery, disease, mental disorder, renunciation, and presumption of death.

How can I prove my mentally cruelty to my wife? ›

Establishing a case of mental cruelty depends upon the facts and circumstances of each case. However, following ways, you can prove mental cruelty in a court: Your oral testimony or in writing is sufficient ground for proving mental cruelty.

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