True American Divorce Statistics

There has been a long standing belief that half of all marriages in the United States end in divorce. While this may have been true in the 1970’s and 1980’s, the number of divorce cases has actually decreased as we’ve moved into the new millennium. Even with less divorce actions being filed, the statistics fluctuate depending on various cultural and socioeconomic factors, with some demographics seeing a higher percentage rate than others.

Cultural and Societal Impacts

Nathan Yau, a statistician and writer for FlowingData, recently compiled national divorce statistics and created an interactive chart illustrating divorce trends among many groups of people. Yau’s charts show a drastic change in divorce rates between men and women, both with varying levels of education, employment, and amongst different races.

For example, 29% of women who have earned a Bachelor’s Degree have been divorced or married more than once, whereas the same criteria for men only shows a 28% divorce rate. The percentage of divorce increases slightly for individuals whose highest education level is High School, with a 39% divorce rate for men, and 37% for women.

Race also influences the percentage rate amongst individuals who are divorced or have been married more than once. For white women, the number of divorced females hovers around 38%, with a slightly lower number, 36%, for Caucasian men. The divorce rate hovers around 42% for both black men and women. Asian Americans had the lowest rate of divorce, according to statistics, with a rate of 18% for women, and 16% for men.

Men vs. Women

In 2014, the Austin Institute for the Study of Family and Culture undertook a massive task with their survey entitled Relationships in America (RIA). The RIA study surveyed 4,000 divorced Americans, all between the ages of 18 to 60, inquiring about their divorces, and the thought process that lead them to separate from their spouse.

What the Austin Institute found during their study is surprising: women are more likely to not only think about divorce, but they are more likely to commence an action, than men. According to the study, “20% of married women but only 13% of married men report having thought about leaving their spouse within the past year”. Additionally, a greater number of women surveyed wanted their marriages to end compared to men (55%, and 29 %, respectively).

The Austin Institute’s research showed that, over a period of 125 years, wives routinely filed for divorce more often than husbands. But why is this? Reasons differ greatly per individual relationship, but common occurrences include the desire to flee an abusive marriage, the urge to pursue a new life, abandonment, and a spouse’s excessive pornography use.

Grey Divorce on the Rise

While the overall divorce rate is dropping, the percent baby boomers who are separating from their spouses is on the rise. This trend, known as grey divorce, has been gaining popularity in recent years. According to a 2013 American Association of Matrimonial Lawyers (AAML) 2013 survey, a whopping 61% of lawyers have noticed an increase in the amount of new divorce filings involving baby boomers.

Grey divorces tend to involve parties who have been married for twenty or thirty years, and thus, are more complex cases. Long term marriages often feature children and many joint, marital assets. Custody and support of any minor children needs to be addressed, and the distribution of marital property must be agreed upon before the divorce can be settled and finalized.

Even with the extremely complex and sensitive nature of grey divorce actions, the trend is expected to continue to increase throughout the coming years.

Popular Divorce Months

Even though January has been dubbed “Divorce Month” by matrimonial attorneys, the number of new filings peak later on in the year, often in March, August, and September. In a University of Washington sponsored study, associate sociology professor Julie Brines and doctoral candidate Brian Serafini analyzed divorce data in Washington State over the last 14 years.

Brines and Serafini found that new divorce filings “consistently peaked in March and August, the periods following winter and summer holidays,” with a 33% increase in new cases being initiated between December and March. According to the American Sociological Association, these findings are “believed to be the first quantitative evidence of a seasonal, biannual pattern of filings for divorce”.

Waiting to file for divorce after a major holiday or family vacation is common practice for couples, especially when children are involved. Parents do not want to interrupt the holiday season for their children by announcing their divorce, since children may have a difficult time coping with the life change. Some couples use a big vacation as a “last chance” for their marriage, hoping the time away will improve their relationship. This doesn’t always happen, rather, a vacation can be the last straw and push the couple to proceed forward with divorce.

Brian D. Perskin & Associates P.C.

Whatever the reason may be, there is now undisputed evidence that there are specific times of year when matrimonial law firms will be busiest, even though the general divorce rate is declining. If you are considering divorce, it is recommended that you speak with an experienced attorney before beginning your case. For more information, or to schedule a complimentary consultation, contact Brian D. Perskin & Associates P.C. today!

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