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How common is divorce in the United States?

On Behalf of | Apr 30, 2024 | Divorce

It’s often said that divorce rates are rising in the United States, but this doesn’t hold up to analysis. In fact, the rate has been falling steadily for decades. In 2000, there were 4 divorces per 1,000 Americans. In 2021, there were only 2.5 per 1,000 people.

However, these figures may be complicated by the fact that the marriage rate is also falling. In fact, there’s nothing easy about measuring the divorce rate.

Crude and refined

There are two main methods researchers use to measure divorce rates. The so-called crude method looks at the number of divorces every year per 1,000 people. The so-called refined divorce rate looks at the number of divorces for every 1,000 married women.

Reading over the previous paragraph, you may have already guessed some of the reasons these methods can lead to misleading results. For one, the rise of same-sex marriage means that the number of married women isn’t necessarily a reliable figure against which to measure the divorce rate.

Some of the other issues are more complicated. For instance, there is the question of how long a couple is married. Many more people get married every year than get divorced. Some of these marriages continue for many years before ending in divorce. On average, a divorce typically falls after eight years of marriage.

Complicating matters further, divorce is much more common among those who have been married before. Most marriages involve two people who have never been married before, but about 40% involve at least one partner who has been previously married. Various studies have found that these repeat marriages are more likely than first marriages to end in divorce. Third marriages are considered the most likely, with more than 70% ending in divorce.

It’s personal

These statistics can be interesting for researchers, but if you are currently going through a divorce. Every person who goes through the process has their own story. So, while the basic legal and financial issues may be the same from one divorce to the next, there is no one-size-fits-all solution.