GUEST POST: Making Sense of Divorce Statistics

In today’s society, couples are led to believe that 50% of marriages end in divorce. How accurate is this statistic, though? In actuality, relationship experts have found the arbitrary figure of “50%” to be misleading. Recent, detailed analysis indicates that more encouraging statistics lie beneath this often referenced yet exaggerated data point. So, what can couples learn from the new research in order to build a healthy marriage?

First, it’s important to note that this “50% myth” is false. In fact, the divorce rate has been declining since 1980. An article published in The New York Times, “The Divorce Surge Is Over, but the Myth Lives On,” states that 70% of spouses who tied the knot during the 1990s have celebrated their 15th anniversary, a 15% increase from those who married in the ‘70s and ‘80s. Moreover, couples walking down the aisle from 2000 onward, are experiencing even fewer causes for separation. The current ratio of divorced couples to married couples is measured at 1:3, and if this trend continues, nearly two-thirds of marriages will never end in divorce.

This steady decrease in divorce rates is based on several factors. Here’s a breakdown of why exactly marriages either thrive or fail, and how couples can use this data to improve their chances of maintaining wedded bliss.

Education Level

According to Sharon Pastore of the Main Line Family Law Center, spouses who have both earned degrees are 25% less likely to divorce than those without collegiate training. In fact, of college-educated people who married during the early 2000s, only 11% had divorced by their seventh anniversary (so, don’t take that “Seven Year Itch” stereotype too seriously!).

Age Range

A study launched by the CDC has concluded that those who tie the knot between 20-24 years old, face a higher threat of getting divorced than any other age demographic. This can be attributed to a young person’s tendency toward self-absorption, emotional immaturity, ill-preparation and tenuous grasp on adult responsibilities.

Financial Status

Households that generate an annual income of at least $50K are 30% less likely to divorce than those living within the budget constraints of a $25K annual income, as determined by the Main Line Family Law Center. Lower socioeconomic status often results in marital tension and subsequent separation. However, ironically, the actual divorce process can potentially lead to financial hardship for both parties involved, as well.

Religious Affiliation

On average, divorce rates within the church tend to be lower than among secular environments. The American Family Association Journal surveyed over 50 churches from 2012-2013, and found that only 22% of married congregants had been divorced. Furthermore, if spouses are actively engaged in practicing a religion together, they are 14% less likely to separate than those lacking any faith-based ties.

Geographic Location

The prevalence of divorce can also depend on where people live. For example, in the United States, West Coast couples are more vulnerable to marriage failure. According to The Demographic and Household Estimates for 2005-2009, conducted by American Community Survey, New York City exhibits less divorce than any other U.S. metropolitan area. Why do Big Apple-based marriages stick? NBC New York reports: “It’s difficult to file for divorce in New York which might contribute to the lower rates. New Yorkers also tend to stay single longer, so there are fewer people per capita getting married, thus fewer people getting divorced.”

Part 2 of this Guest Post will identify other relevant factors.

Guest Author:NANDA DAVIS  is a graduate of George Mason University School of Law. She practices family law in Virginia at The Davis Law Practice. Her articles have appeared in several legal publications including Justipedia.  http://www.davislawpractice.com/

4 thoughts on “GUEST POST: Making Sense of Divorce Statistics

  1. I would be interested to know if the number of couples that have prenuptial agreements has increased during the same period the statistics show the decline in divorce.

    When a person feels ‘safe and secure’ in a relationship their stress levels are quite likely lower than those who do not feel ‘safe and secure’. Lower stress = better relationship = less likely to divorce.

    Just sayin’…

    1. Peter In my practice, prenuptial agreements have markedly increased with more and more couples, particularly second marriage couples and couples where one party has significant assets, considering a prenup to be de rigueur.

  2. Key point here is people getting smarter and probability of less marriages occurring in first place therefore less divorces could likely take up most of these statistics.
    Over pre-nuptial agreements, a focus on pre-conceive agreements could probably put the ratio of marriages that stay together up quite a few notches.

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