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Monday, February 5, 2024

50 Percent

Revealing Divorce Statistics In 2024

By Christy Bieber, J.D.February 5, 2024

Most people have heard that half of all marriages end in divorce, but is there more to the story? These divorce statistics shed more light on when and how marriages come to an end in the United States. Read on to find out the truth about who is dissolving their marriages.

Key Divorce Statistics in 2024

In 2021, a total of 689,308 divorces occurred across the 45 U.S. states that report this statistics.[1] During that same year, 1,985,072 marriages occurred, making the U.S. marriage rate 6 per 1,000 people.[1]

Far more people get married over the course of each year than get divorced. These divorce statistics show what happens to marriages that end, and when and how couples decide to end them.

How Many Marriages End in Divorce?

So, what about the famous statistic that half of all marriages end in divorce? That’s true, but only when it comes to first marriages, half of which are dissolved. Second and third marriages actually fail at a far higher rate.[2]

When Do Couples Divorce?

When marriages end, usually some time has passed since the wedding. In fact, the average length of a marriage prior to divorce is eight years.[3]

How Long Does Divorce Take and How Much Does It Cost?

Divorces take time. Contested divorces usually take over a year to finalize—although simple divorces can be completed in as little as three months.[4] Divorce comes at a big cost, with couples spending an average of $7,000 to dissolve their union.[4]

What Happens After Divorce?

Many who divorce don’t give up on the institution of marriage, though. A total of 64% of men and 52% of women get married again after their marriage has ended.[5]

Crude Divorce Rate vs. Refined Divorce Rate

When considering the divorce rate, it is helpful to understand there are two different measures used.

  • The crude divorce rate refers to how many divorces occur per 1,000 people
  • The refined divorce rate refers to how many divorces occur per 1,000 married women

The refined divorce rate is often believed to be more accurate. When measuring on a per-population basis, changes in marriage trends could affect the data on rates of divorce. However, as a growing number of same-sex couples marry, divorce statistics based solely on divorces per married women may become less relevant.[6]

Divorce Trends Over Time

Trends in divorce have changed over time, with the number of people dissolving their unions decreasing.

The Divorce Rate Has Decreased From a Rate of 4.0 to 2.5 Since 2000

Both the marriage and divorce rate have declined over time.

In 2000, a total of 944,000 divorces and annulments occurred. The crude divorce rate was 4.00 per population during that year. By 2021, it had fallen to 2.5 per 1,000 population, with just 689,308 people divorcing that year.

The marriage rate has declined too, dropping from 8.2 per population in 2000 to 6.00 per population in 2021.[1]

Third Marriages Have the Highest Divorce Rate—73%

Many people accept it as fact that half of all marriages end in divorce, but as mentioned above, this applies only to first marriages. Those who wed multiple times face a far higher rate of divorce. In fact, 67% of second marriages end, and 73% of third marriages are dissolved.[2]

40% of New Marriages Include a Partner Who Is Remarrying

The majority of marriages (60%)—are first marriages for both partners. But, as many as 20% of unions involve one person who has been married before while another 20% are repeat marriages for both parties.[5]

Only 6% of Divorced Couples Remarry Each Other

Divorce is a final legal end to a marriage, but divorce statistics show that couples sometimes want to be married again to each other after formally dissolving their union.

In fact, a total of 6% of divorced couples get remarried to each other. When this occurs, the odds of future success are high. A full 72% of reunited couples remain married after reuniting.[7]

Divorcees Are More Likely to Die Earlier Than Married People

Divorce can have surprising—and long lasting—consequences. One of those consequences is an increased risk of early death. Sadly, the mortality rate is 1,363 per 100,000 for divorcees compared with 779 per 100,000 for married couples.

Divorced men bear the brunt of this increased risk, with mortality rates of 1,772 per 100,000 compared to divorce women with mortality rates of 1,095 per 100,000.[8]

The Majority of Divorcees Own Their Home

Decisions about the family home are some of the most contentious when a marriage ends and a property settlement is determined. This is a common issue that must be resolved, as 53.4% of people divorced in 2022 owned their own homes. Just 46.6% were renters.[9]

Couples Who Live Together Before Marriage Are More Likely to Divorce

Living together prior to marriage is one predictor of the likelihood of divorce. A total of 57% of couples who did not cohabitate prior to marriage had a union that lasted 20 or more years, compared with just 46% who did live together before tying the knot.[10]

Many factors could explain this, including the fact that couples with stronger religious beliefs may be both less likely to live together before marriage and less likely to divorce.

Having Friends Who Are Divorced Increases Your Risk of Divorce

The marital stability within a couple's social network also play a role in whether their union lasts. Couples who have friends who divorce have a 75% increase in the risk of their own marriage ending. Even couples with two degrees of separation from divorce still have a 33% greater risk.[11]

Because of this link, some sociologists believe divorce is a social contagion.

Most Common Reasons for Divorce

Couples report many different reasons for ending a marital relationship. However, these are the most common explanations cited by divorcing couples.

Lack of Commitment Is the Most Common Reason for Divorce

Marriage is not always easy, so success requires both spouses to be dedicated to their union and serious about making it last. That’s why it is not surprising that a lack of commitment could spell disaster for a couple.

In fact, 75% of individuals and couples cited lack of commitment as the reason for their divorce. This was the most common cause of a marriage ending, exceeding even infidelity.[12]

60% of Divorced Couples Cited Infidelity as a Reason for Their Divorce

Infidelity is another leading cause of divorce, with 60% of couples citing a partner’s unfaithfulness as a reason their union ended. When a marriage is supposed to be monogamous and one party fails to fulfill this obligation, trust can be lost and the marriage may be irretrievably broken.[12]

Domestic Abuse Prompts a Divorce in 24% of Cases

Domestic abuse is a serious crime. It is also common among couples who are divorcing. Nearly a quarter of divorces—24% in total—cite domestic abuse as a cause of divorce.[12]

When a couple ends a marriage for this reason, the divorce process may look different. An uncontested divorce arranged through a mediator may not be the best approach, despite its benefits in ordinary situations, due to the difficulties of an abuse victim negotiating a settlement with an abusive partner.

Basic Incompatibility and Money Issues Are Among the Top Reasons for Divorce

Couples divorce for many other reasons as well. Other than a lack of commitment or infidelity, here are three of the top causes of divorce.[12, 13]

  • 58% of couples report arguing and excess conflict
  • 45%of divorcing couples indicate they married too young
  • 38% report financial problems as a divorce cause

The “Final Straw” Causing Divorce Is Most Commonly Infidelity, Domestic Violence, and Substance Abuse

Often, there is not just one factor resulting in a marriage ending. Couples may face many problems, as these divorce statistics show.

But, even when there are a variety of issues, people who dissolve their unions usually report there is one "final straw" or tipping point that pushes them over the edge and causes them to make the final decision to divorce. In fact, 69% of divorcing couples report this is the case.

When there was a final straw, infidelity was the most common issue that ultimately prompted divorce, with 24% of couples reporting this as their final straw. Domestic violence was the ultimate cause of divorce for 21% of couples and 12% said substance abuse was the deciding issue.

Interestingly, couples often disagree on what the final straw was that led to the end of their marriage. In fact, not a single couple reported the same deciding issue as the ultimate reason for the end of their marriage.[12]

66% of Men and 74% of Women Think Their Partners Should Have Worked Harder to Save the Marriage

When a marriage ends, there is often plenty of blame to go around. However, many people believe they did all they could to save their marriage, while believing their spouse should have worked harder. In fact, just 32% of men and 33% of women believe they personally should have made more of an effort to prevent divorce.[12]

Over 70% of Couples Report not Understanding the Realities or Stages of Marriage

A lack of knowledge about what marriage entails is one of the leading contributing factors to divorce. In fact, 72% of couples reported they didn't fully understand the commitment involved in marriage before they tied the knot. And, many divorced people said they were surprised their partner changed over their marriage and were unable to personally cope with new problems that arose over time.[12]

Divorce Rates by State

Divorce rates are not the same from one state to the next. Here are the states with the highest and lowest rates of divorce.

States With the Highest Divorce Rates

Nevada has the highest divorce rate of any U.S. State. There are 4.2 divorces per 1,000 marriages in Nevada. One reason why more divorces may occur in Nevada is the state’s reputation for having lax rules regarding both getting married and ending a marriage.[14]

States With the Lowest Divorce Rates

In sharp contrast to Nevada, Massachusetts has a divorce rate of just 1 divorce per 1,000 marriages. One reason for this is that Massachusetts residents tend to marry at an older age, which reduces the risk they will ultimately divorce.[14]

Divorce Rates by Country

The United States has a higher divorce rate than most parts of the world, but it is far from the country with the most divorces.

In fact, the U.S. crude divorce rate is 2.5[1] , while the worldwide average crude divorce rate is just 1.8.[15]

The Country With the Highest Divorce Rate is Maldives With a Crude Divorce Rate of 5.52

Some countries have more than double the average divorce rate. This includes the Maldives with a crude divorce rate of 5.52, Kazakhstan with a rate of 4.6 and Russia, with a rate of 3.9.[16]

The Country With the Lowest Divorce Rate in the World is Sri Lanka

By contrast, other countries have far lower divorce rates than the global average. The countries with the lowest rate of divorce include Sri Lanka with a crude divorce rate of 0.15, as well as Guatemala and Vietnam which have the second and third lowest divorce rates with crude divorce rates of just 0.20.[16]

These low divorce rates may be explained by strict laws limiting when a marriage can be dissolved. For example, in Sri Lanka, divorce is largely fault-based, rather than the more lenient no-fault system that applies in the United States.

There Are Only Two Countries Where Divorce Is Illegal

In some countries, it is not possible to divorce at all. Neither The Republic of the Philippines nor Vatican City permit divorce.[17]

Divorce Rates by Occupation

Divorce statistics show that a person’s job can affect the likelihood of their marriage ending. Here’s which professions have the highest and lowest rates of marriage dissolutions.

Gaming Managers and Bartenders Have the Highest Divorce Rates

There are several professions where the divorce rate exceeds 50%. These include gaming managers, who have a divorce rate of 52.9%, and bartenders who have a divorce rate of 52.7%. These professions tend to involve working long hours outside of normal business hours, which can put added strain on a relationship.[18]

You can see below which other professions have a high rate of divorce.

Actuaries Have the Lowest Divorce Rate

The divorce rate is far lower in certain professions—less than half of the often-cited 50% divorce rate. Actuaries, for example, have the lowest rate of divorce at just 17%. The table also shows other professions for which divorces tend to be less common.[18]

Architecture and Engineering Industries Have the Lowest Divorce Rate

When looking at the divorce rate on an industry-by-industry basis, architects and engineers stand out for their low rates of marriage dissolutions, as do the other professions shown below.[18]

Office and Administration Industry Has the Highest Divorce Rate

In stark contrast to the architecture and engineering industries, the office and administration industry has a divorce rate of 40.6%. The table below also shows other professions for which there is a higher rate of marriages ending.[18]

Divorce Rates by Income

Money is a leading cause of marital conflict, so unsurprisingly, couples with lower incomes face a higher likelihood of divorce. But, just how high do the divorce statistics show?

The Divorce Rate Steadily Decreases From 40% to 30% as Income Increases

As a couples’ incomes increase, divorce rates tend to decrease—but only to a certain point. Once a couple has a household income of around $200,000, divorce rates remain steady at around 30%. The rate of divorce does not decline again until household income reaches $600,000, at which point it drops closer to 25%. However, once income exceeds $600,000, the rate of divorce once again begins to steadily climb back up to 30%.[18]

This suggests that increasing income can reduce the risk of divorce, but once income climbs too high, a different set of complications can threaten the stability of a marriage.

Divorce Rates Are Higher Among Couples Below the Poverty Line

Living below the poverty level can cause enormous stress, which can have consequences for a marriage. One study found as many as 46% of adults ages 18 to 55 who live below the poverty level have divorced.19 The American Community Survey conducted by the U.S. Census also revealed that 12% of men and 19% of women who lived below the poverty line were divorced in 2022.[9]

Divorce Rates Are Similar Among Men and Women not in the Labor Force

When one partner does not work, this can impact the chances of a marriage surviving. This is true regardless of whether a male or a female partner remains at home. In 2022, for example, 21% of divorces involved men not in the labor force, and 22% of divorces involved women who were not working.[9]

Divorce Rates by Age

Divorce statistics show that each partner’s age at the time of marriage can also have an impact on how likely it is the union will last. Couples on both the older and younger end of the spectrum tend to face higher divorce rates.

Couples Who Marry Before Age 32 Experience Lower Divorce Rates

There is a sweet spot in terms of marital age for those looking for the least risk of divorce. That’s because couples who marry at 25 are 50% less likely to divorce compared with couples who marry at 20—but for those who marry after age 32, divorce rates increase by 5% per year until the age they are wed.[20]

The Average Age of People Who Divorced in 2022 Is 46 for Men and 44 for Women.

As people grow older, the chance they have ended a marriage increases. In fact, 42% of people between ages 45 and 54 have been divorced. This makes sense as it takes time both to get married and time for the union to fail.[9]

The Median Age of a First Marriage Is Increasing

Many couples have chosen to delay marriage—often for financial reasons or due to changing cultural norms. In fact, in 2022, the median age of marriage was 32 for men and 30 for women.[9]

By contrast, in 2012, the average age for women marrying was 26 and the average age for men was 28. These older marriages could potentially increase the divorce risk if couples are waiting too long to tie the knot and face increased difficulties learning to cohabitate and merge their lives.[21]

The Divorce Rate of Baby Boomers Is Increasing

As Baby Boomers enter retirement, their divorce rate is creeping up. In fact, here's what the data shows about couples within this age range.

  • Adults aged 55 to 64 have a divorce rate of 46%
  • Adults aged 65 tp 74 have a divorce rate of 39%
  • Adults aged 75 or older have a divorce rate of 24%[22]

Divorce Rates by Gender

Understanding divorce rates by gender is helpful—especially as this can shed more light on the accuracy of the refined divorce rate. This is the divorce rate measured relative to the number of married women, while the crude divorce rate looks at the number of divorces relative to the population.

69% of Divorces Are Initiated by Women

Women are far more likely than men to initiate divorce. In fact, nearly 7 in 10 marriage dissolutions are initiated by the female partner. This is based on research involving heterosexual couples.[23]

Women often carry more of the mental load in a relationship, and also take on a primary caregiving role for children. The added burden they face—especially when they feel their support system is lacking—could help to explain why they are more likely to initiate divorce.

The Divorce Rate for Women Is 7.6 per 1,000 Women Over the Age of 15

In 2019, 7.6 per 1,000 women over age 15 divorced. This is a substantial decrease from 9.7 new divorces per 1,000 women 15 and over, which was the number of divorces among women in 2009.[24]

Divorce Rates by Ethnicity

Divorce rates also vary by ethnicity. Many factors could explain these discrepancies, including differing cultural norms surrounding the institution of marriage as well as systemic biases that undermine family structures in certain communities.

Here’s what the data shows about both divorce and marriage rates by ethnicity.

  • The divorce rate for white couples is 15.1%. The marriage rate among these couples is 32.1%.
  • The divorce rate for Black couples is 30.8% and the marriage rate is 17.3%
  • The divorce rate for Hispanic couples is 18.5% and the marriage rate is 33.2%[25]

Divorce Rates by Education Level

Education level affects the chances of a marriage succeeding, with those who have attained more education experiencing a reduced likelihood of divorce.

  • The divorce rate for people with an education of high school or less is 39% for men and 37% for women[26]
  • The divorce rate for people with an advanced education—defined as having more than a bachelor’s degree—is 26% for men and 30% for women[26]
  • 29% of men and 32% of women with a bachelor’s degree or higher were divorced in 2022[9]

College-Educated Women Are Most Likely to Have a Lasting Marriage

One particular demographic group has the highest likelihood of a long-lasting marriage: College-educated women.

Earning a degree significantly decreases the chances of a woman divorcing. The benefits apply only when the degree is earned though. Women who attend some college but who do not graduate are far less likely than their credentialed counterparts to remain married over the long-term.

In fact, while 78% of women with a bachelor’s degree have a marriage that lasts at least 20 years, just 49% of women with some college education reach this milestone. And, just 40% of women with a high-school education or less have a marriage that lasts 20 years or more.[27]

Divorce Rates by Religion

Many religions discourage the practice of divorce. However, this does not not necessarily mean their followers adhere to these tenants. Here’s how religion affects the divorce rate.

The Religion With the Lowest Divorced Population Is Hindu

While 60% of the Hindu population is married, just 5% of members of this demographic group are divorced.[27]

The Religion With the Highest Divorced Population Is Evangelical Protestant

Evangelical Protestants divorce at a higher rate than any other religious group. While 55% of this population is married, 14% are divorced. This is more than double the percentage of divorced Hindus.[27]

People without a religion/unaffiliated have a divorced population of 11%

Those not affiliated with any religion are less likely to marry and more likely to divorce than individuals with religious beliefs. Just 37% of the unaffiliated population is married, while 11% are divorced.[27]

Divorce With Children

Children can place strain on a marriage due to the added caregiving burden. When children are involved, the divorce process also becomes more complicated as issues related to child custody and child support must be addressed.

Divorce statistics show a substantial number of couples face these issues, with 18.7% of men and 38% of women in 2022 living with children under 18 in the home after divorce.[9]

70% of Children Live With Both Parents Who Are Married

Although the majority of children live with two married parents, the number of children who live only with their mothers has substantially increased. A total of 21% of children lived only with their mother in 2020, compared with just 11% in 1968.

The number of children living with only their father is a much smaller number, but it has also increased dramatically in recent decades. While just 1% of children lived alone with their fathers in 1968, this number increased to 4.5% in 2020.[29]

Having More Children Does not Increase the Risk of Divorce

The good news for parents who want large families is that more kids does not increase the risk of divorce. In fact, while 17% of couples with two children experienced divorce, this number dropped to 13% of couples with three children.[30]

Divorce Settlements

Divorce statistics can shed light on how common divorce is, as well as on what is likely to happen when a marriage ends. Couples can reach a settlement when their union is dissolved. This settlement will address issues such as property division, child custody, and alimony and child support.

Couples can negotiate on these issues with the help of an experienced divorce attorney or can go to court where their attorney can help them make a persuasive case to the judge for their preferred outcome.

The Most Expensive Divorce Was Bill and Melinda Gates for Roughly $76 Billion

Divorces are more complicated when high net worth individuals dissolve their marriages, as there is much more property to be distributed.

The most expensive divorce in U.S. history was the end of the marriage of Bill and Melinda Gates, which involved an estimated $76 billion in property. Jeff Bezos and Mackenzie Scott had the second most expensive settlement at a more modest $38.3 billion.[31]

15% of Married Couples Report Signing a Prenup

The process of divorce is far simpler when married couples have a prenuptial agreement in place. As long as this premarital contract is enforceable, it provides clarity on key issues in the divorce. Couples can agree on these issues before marriage when they are still able to work together easily to come to consensus.

Despite the benefits of a prenuptial agreement during the divorce process, just 42% of adults support the use of these premarital contracts and, in 2010, just 3% of all married couples entered into one. And, among those who have not yet tied the knot, just 35% indicate they would be likely to sign a prenup.[32]

Those who choose not to use a prenup need to make certain they find a qualified divorce attorney to help protect their rights during the dissolution of their marriage. An attorney can also provide guidance during the drafting of a prenuptial agreement to help ensure the contract is fair and enforceable in the future.

Sources

  1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Provisional number of marriages and marriage rate.
  2. Psychology Today, The High Failure Rate of Second and Third Marriages
  3. U.S. Census Bureau. Number, Timing, and Duration of Marriages
    and Divorces.
  4. Forbes Advisor. How Much Does A Divorce Cost In 2024?
  5. Pew Research. 8 facts about Love and Marriage in America
  6. Psychology Today. What Is the Divorce Rate, Really?
  7. Love to Know. Restore Marriage After Divorce
  8. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Mortality Among Adults Aged 25 and Over by Marital Status: United States, 2010–2017
  9. Census American Community Survey. Characteristics of People with a Marital Event in the Last 12 Months.
  10. Pew Research Center. The link between a college education and a lasting marriage
  11. Pew Research. Is Divorce Contagious?
  12. National Library of Medicine. List of Major Reasons for Divorce by Individuals and Couples Who Participated in PREP
  13. Institute for Divorce Financial Analysis. Survey: Certified Divorce Financial Analyst® (CDFA®) professionals Reveal the Leading Causes of Divorce
  14. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Divorce Rates by State
  15. United Nations. Divorces and crude divorce rates by urban/rural residence
  16. World Population Review. Divorce Rates by Country
  17. World Atlas. Countries Where Divorce Is Illegal
  18. Flowing Data. Divorce and Occupation
  19. Institute for Family Studies. The Marriage Divide: How and Why Working-Class Families Are More Fragile Today
  20. Institute for Family Studies. Want to Avoid Divorce? Wait to Get Married, But Not Too Long
  21. Statista. Estimated median age of Americans at their first wedding in the United States from 1998 to 2021, by sex
  22. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Love and Loss Among Older Adults.
  23. Frontiers in Sociology and Social Research. Who Wants the Breakup? Gender and Breakup in Heterosexual Couples
  24. U.S. Census. U.S. Marriage and Divorce Rates Declined in Last 10 Years
  25. Bowling Green State University. Marriage to Divorce Ratio in the U.S.: Demographic Variation, 2018
  26. Flowing Data. Divorce Rates for Different Groups
  27. Pew Research. The link between a college education and a lasting marriage
  28. Pew Research. Marital Status by Religious Group
  29. U.S. Census. Number of Children Living Only With Their Mothers Has Doubled in Past 50 Years
  30. National Library of Medicine. Shorter birth intervals between siblings are associated with increased risk of parental divorce
  31. Investopedia. The Most Expensive Divorces in History
  32. Harris Poll. More Couples Are Signing Prenups Before Saying “I Do”

 

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