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The Divorce Statistics, Facts, and Rates You Need to Know
You’ve likely heard the statistic that half of all marriages end in divorce. Now, many of us simply accept this percentage as fact without looking into the data behind the numbers. In truth, the answer is not quite so clearcut.
By some counts, divorce rates have been declining since the 1980s. But, there is not unanimous agreement regarding this trend. In the end, the exact numbers for divorce depends on how the math is done and what factors are considered. That said, there have been numerous studies that attempt to explain the cause of divorce as well as its financial impact on a family.
The Annual Divorce Rate Divorce
Determining the divorce rate requires looking into the available data on divorce. Specifically, we consider data from the U.S. Census and the National Center for Health Statistics. These agencies track divorce rates around the country as reported to them from state health departments. The latest reports from these agencies were released in 2017.
The 2017 reports showed that 2.9 out of 1000 people in the U.S. divorced in 2017. This number is very close to the rate of 3 per 1000 that was recorded in 2016.
However, when we only take into account those that are currently married, the numbers show a bit of a stronger downward trend. In 2017, 16.1 out of 1000 people eligible for divorce obtained a divorce, compared to 16.7 out of 1000 in 2016. Note that overall we are seeing a declining trend in divorce rates nationally. The historical highpoint was in 1979 where 22.9 out 1000 married people obtained a divorce.
Among states, Florida is slightly higher than the national average at 19 out of 1000. Arkansas has the highest rate of divorce at 25.5, while Hawaii has the lowest at 10.1.
According to reports by the Economist, if we zoom out to the divorce rate worldwide, the United States has the 14th highest divorce rate of any country. Guatemala and Qatar have the lowest rates at 0.4 per 1000, and Russia has the highest divorce rate at 4.7.
Note that the divorce rate is lower for same-sex couples. But, keep in mind that there have only been limited studies conducted to date, and we aren’t able to look back on historical data to make comparisons. With that in mind, so far the divorce rate for same-sex couples appears to be about 50% less than for opposite-sex couples.
The Lifetime Divorce Rate
So far we have limited our discussion to only the number of divorce per year. But, it’s also important to consider the lifetime rate of divorce. By lifetime rate, we are interested in learning what the likelihood is that a marriage will end in divorce at some point in time. Those in the field that have studied the data agree that this number is not easy to determine, but estimate that it is most likely between 42% and 45%.
Note that this number is consistent with the statistic that only about 60% of children currently live with two married parents. Now, adults are waiting longer to get married these days, but people are also living longer. This has led some to theorize that the divorce rate will continue to stay roughly the same.
Common Factors That Lead to Divorce
While there isn’t always a singular cause that leads to a marriage ending, there are some factors that do seem to be associated with a couple divorcing. One factor is the degree to which each spouse makes financial contributions to the marriage. A divorce is less likely to occur if couples contribute equally to the marriage.
Another factor is if the couple has close relatives or friends that have been divorced. In fact, this factor makes it 75% more likely a couple will divorce. Further, you are 33% more likely to divorce if you have a friend of a friend that is divorced. However, keep in mind that having a close friend group is a factor that makes it less likely that you will get divorced.
The Average Cost of a Divorce
Getting divorced in Florida can be expensive. In fact, the average price of a divorce is $13,500, which includes filing fees and the cost of an attorney. Further, after a divorce, studies have shown that both income and net worth go down significantly for both spouses.
This reality also affects children after divorce. According to studies, the household income of a child’s family drops an average of 42%. While this might not seem significant given that the child is now living with a single custodial parent, the figure also takes into account child support. In fact, a large percentage of mothers fall into poverty after getting a divorce.