Most people agree that modern Americans are living in a society permeated with divorce. Even in the mass media, divorces and remarriages are common fodder for television shows and movies. Headlines are splashed with the tawdry details of the latest celebrity split. The most recent compilation of divorce statistics reveals interesting information about the state of the American family.
Divorce Rate in America
For the past decade, the overall American divorce rate has remained stable, at around 50% for first marriages. The statistics are become more depressing for each successive marriage, with 65% of second marriages ending in divorce and even higher rates for third marriages and beyond. Divorce rate statistics show that 3.6 to 5% of marriages are ending every year, cumulating in a large portion of adults who have personally experienced divorce at some point in their lives.
Top Reason for Divorce
Money problems are often cited as the number one cause of divorce in America, but it's impossible to calculate because they are part of a larger cause usually called 'irreconcilable differences', which basically means that couple couldn't get along. These account for about half of all American divorces. Another key cause is adultery, with an estimated quarter of marriages dissolving for this reason. Surprisingly, very few people cite outright abuse as a cause of divorce.
State with Highest Divorce Rate
Most people are not surprised to find that Nevada is the American state bearing the highest per capita divorce with a 6.4% divorce rate. Like marriage in Nevada, divorce in Nevada has been streamlined so that even couples from other states can go there for a quickie divorce. Americans might be surprised, however, to find out which state has the fewest marriages ending in divorce. Statistics show that the crime-laden District of Columbia had the lowest divorce rate, with just 1.7 percent of couples splitting during the last reported year.
The Age and Race Factor
Married couples nowadays are most likely young, ethnic, and/or city dwellers. The younger a couple is when they marry, the more likely they are to divorce. Couples who come from different racial, ethnic, or religious backgrounds are more likely to divorce as well. As with all things, race plays its part, with 11% of African-Americans, 10% of whites, and almost 8% of Hispanics having been through a divorce. Divorce statistics also reveal that urban couples are more likely to get divorced than their rural counterparts.
Family with Children Matters
Unfortunately, families with children make up a large proportion of marriages ending in divorce. Statistics show that two out of three marriages ending in divorce have minor children in the home. American children are the least likely in the Western world to grow up in the same household as both biologically related parents, with only 63% living in this situation at any given time. Over nine percent of all households are lead by single mothers, and almost two percent by single fathers. This means that over ten percent of American households are being managed and supported by overburdened, exhausted single parents. In contrast, married households with children at home make up just one third of the population.
As divorce statistics continue to rise, experts expect the proportion of single parent households to increase as well. This can have a huge impact on not just American families, but the American culture as a whole, as children from single parent households often do not receive the attention and security they need. 85% of children with behavioral problems and 71% of high school drop outs are from fatherless homes. Studies have shown that children from single parent homes are also more likely to have teenaged pregnancies and to become single parents themselves. Children with divorced parents present unique behavioral and psychological challenges that our society is not yet equipped to deal with.
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Even people who have never personally divorced a spouse may find themselves negatively affected by divorce. Perhaps their parents divorced, or as they age, their children may divorce. When you add in siblings, friends, and work associates, it is not a huge conjecture to say that 100% of the American population is meaningfully affected by divorce rate statistics. Even in the rare case that someone may not personally know divorced people, Americans live in a society where marriage are family are no longer permanent, unconditional arrangements. This lack of stability has its effect on everyone. With the increase in remarriage and the resulting stepfamilies, divorce may mean a mere dissolution of the nuclear family unit, but also a permanent loss of people who once were family members-stepparents and stepsiblings.
Ways that Make Marriages Last
Couples who received premarital counseling have a much lower rate of divorce. This is probably because they worked out their differences in a calm and neutral setting before the actual situations arose. Couples who actively practice a religion together and pray on a daily basis have a much lower divorce rate, which is estimated at around 1-2%. However, religious couples who are not as active do not enjoy this low divorce rate; conservative Christians in general were more likely than atheists or agnostics to divorce.
Another good way to avoid becoming part of the divorce statistics is to marry at a later age. Statistics show that women who married as teens have the worst divorce rates, and women who married after 25 are the most successful in their marriages. Age and maturity play a huge role in a marriage's chance of success.
As the statistics show, divorce in America has risen to the point that every marriage is threatened. Behind the numbers are millions of families struggling to rebuild after this incredible loss. However, most people do not regret their divorce once the actual legal procedure is complete. Even among people who were not the instigators of divorce, most divorced couples are happier years later. Although many people view divorce as a threat to the fabric of American society, it clearly can be the right choice in many circumstances.
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