6 Divorce Trends That May Surprise You

By Sharon Pastore, Main Line Family Law Center

When most people get married, they don’t foresee a divorce in their future. Yet, nearly 45% of married couples in the United States will end their marriages through divorce.

Maybe you knew that one.

The high divorce rate in the U.S is not a new divorce statistic. Many studies, facts, and speculations about divorce trends exist, but what you hear may be actually be out of date or pure myth.

Here's the surprising down low on current divorce facts and statistics:divorce statistics

1. The divorce rate in the U.S. is decreasing. Many people would be shocked to know that the number of divorces is actually declining in the past few decades. This however, is not because married people are no longer calling it quits. The overall number of people getting married in the United States has declined. Therefore, if there are less people getting married, there are less people getting divorced.

2. Women are significantly happier following their divorce. In fact, almost 66% of divorces are initiated by women. There has been some research and speculation as to why this is so. Sometimes factors such as child custody and spousal abuse play into reasons why a woman may initiate a divorce. Also, women are more likely to initiate a divorce if they are economically independent and if her social circle supports the decision to divorce. A newly released study of nearly two decades by Kingston Univeristy London found women are significantly more content than usual for up to five years after divorce. This contradicts the 2002 study by Institute for American Values that found that unhappily married adults who divorced were no happier after the split than unhappily married adults who stayed married.

3. The largest segment of people getting divorced over the past decade are those over 50.  According to the National Center for Family and Marriage Research, between 1990 and 2009, the divorce rate for the over 50 population doubled. This “grey divorce revolution” may be the result of many reasons. The sheer population size of the baby boomer generation could be contributing to this rise in divorce. Also, people tend to marry at a later age, possibly contributing to people getting divorced at a later age. In addition, those who have been remarried are 2.5 times more likely to go through a divorce.

4. Factors such as age, religion, education, and area of residence all have influence over the likelihood of divorce.  For example, those who are married after 25, have a religious affiliation, a child after marriage, a college education, and a higher income are slightly less likely to go through a divorce. Even the area that you live in may influence whether or not you get a divorce. Those who live on the west coast appear to have higher divorce rates than those who live on the east coast. In Pennyslvania, there were 36,345 divorces and annullments filed in 2012, of which 3560 divorces were in Delaware County, Montgomery County and Chester County.

5. A significant number of children view divorce as a solution to marital problems. In one recent study, 70% of children with divorced parents saw divorce as an adequate answer to marital problems whereas only 40% of children with married parents saw it as a solution.

6. A child's potential income as an adult is linked to their parents' marital status. Also, there have been studies to show that a child’s future income as an adult can be influenced by their parents' marital status as well as a parent’s economic status. For example, a child of a married couple with a high income is more likely to have a high income compared to a child of a single parent with a high income.

Of course, these are just trends. You can't draw any conclusions to your own situation based on these divorce statistics.  When you find yourself asking, "Why is this happening to me?"  perhaps this article offers a slight bit of objective perspective. With the amount of incorrect information floating around out there, it's important to distingush between fact and fiction.

About the Author

Sharon Pastore, Main Line Family Law Center

Picture of Sharon Pastore, Main Line Family Law Center Sharon Pastore is Co-Founder of Main Line Family Law Center, which was established in 2012. She is on a mission to generate awareness, understanding and trust around mediation as a healthier option for separation and divorce well before a client's first consultation. She draws upon over 17 years in nonprofit, education and marketing to enable more spouses to "get to the table" and mediate successfully.

Want to learn more myths that may surprise you?

Download The 11 Myths of Divorce Mediation, published by Main Line Family Law Center.

Download Report