Child sitting listening to parents argue.

10 Divorce Rate Statistics, Trends, and Predictions

Falling out of love is hard. Navigating the complexities of marriage is no small feat. Divorce, sometimes, is just an unavoidable outcome.

Even parents who go to counseling, and make a sincere commitment to work on themselves and the relationship, can find themselves signing divorce papers. However, if divorce is inevitable, people can avoid being a statistic in the nasty divorce epidemic.

Not only is divorce difficult emotionally, psychologically, and spiritually, but it’s also expensive. The average cost of divorce in the U.S. can be $15,000 to $20,000.

Historically, up to half of first marriages end in divorce. And that number tends to increase for second and third marriages. We’ll take a closer look at those statistics and others in this article.

For those considering or in the process of dissolving their marriage, our divorce coaching resources, proprietary divorce self-assessment, and divorce directory will help you make informed decisions. Safeguarding your emotional, psychological, and financial well-being during such a trying period is vital, but it is possible to solve the divorce puzzle.

We’ve put together 10 divorce rate statistics that shed light on the current state of marriage and divorce, along with emerging trends and predictions for the future.

Let’s get started.

1. Approximately 35-50% of first marriages in the U.S. end in divorce (Source)

While the odds of a first marriage lasting “til death do us part” range from nearly two thirds to 50/50, subsequent marriages have increasingly higher divorce rates.

Statistics from the World Population Review show that in roughly 60% of second marriages, the couple ends up signing divorce papers. For third marriages, the likelihood of divorce is even higher, with 70% or more married couples eventually deciding to divorce.

However, second marriages tend to last longer than first marriages – at least in recent history. A Statista report from 2009 showed the average length of a first marriage in the U.S. was eight years, while second marriages lasted an average of two years longer.

2. The U.S. divorce rate has been decreasing since at least 1990 (Source)

In 1990, the divorce rate in America was approximately 4.7 people out of 1,000. Over the past three decades, the divorce rate has seen occasional, slight spikes and plateaus. However, there has been a general downward trend, with the crude divorce rate reaching a record low of 2.3 people per 1,000 in 2020 before rising to 2.5 people per 1,000 in 2021, the most recent year in the Statista study.

The crude divorce rate is the number of divorces per 1,000 people in the nation, regardless of marital status.

The latest figures for the refined or adjusted divorce rate in the U.S., which is the number of divorces per 1,000 married people in the country, comes from a November 2023 report from Bowling Green State University (BGSU). The 2022 data shows a slight increase from 14 to 14.56 divorces per 1,000 married women, year-over-year. This follows a recorded 40-year low in divorces in the U.S. during 2020 and 2021.

Meanwhile, the marriage rate among Americans has also been following a general downward trend, from 9.8 marriages per 1,000 people in 1990 to six marriages per 1,000 people in 2021.

Divorce and COVID-19

The Covid-19 pandemic has had an effect on the general downward trend in divorces over the past few decades, but the full effect on the divorce rate may not be seen for a while.

BGSU identified a dramatic 12% drop in the U.S. divorce rate that coincided with the COVID-19 pandemic. The university predicted 714,997 divorces for 2020, but in a surprising turn, only 630,505 divorces were filed. Louisiana and Maryland were the states with the most significant declines, with their divorce rates dropping 56.5% and 43.3%, respectively.

The 8.6% bounce back the following year was still lower than the divorce rate in 2019, continuing the decades-long trend of reduction.

Canada saw an even steeper drop of 31.7% among married people during the pandemic. The divorce rates decreased from 8.2 to 5.6 divorces per 1,000 married persons from the 2018-19 to 2020-21 evaluation periods. In 2022, StatCan reported divorces in Canada were the fewest in 2020 since 1973, at 42,933 recorded divorces.

However, it’s important to consider the delayed effects of the pandemic on the divorce rate, and it may be years before official data shows the whole picture. For example, divorce rate statistics don’t show how many people started filing for divorce or were negotiating with lawyers, or whose divorce hadn’t been legally finalized or rendered judgment due to closed or short-staffed courthouses.

Some law offices reported increases in divorce enquiries both during the pandemic and after, with many accounts of offices being overloaded with filings. For example, this prominent UK firm saw divorce enquiries increase 122% between July and October 2022, and an even steeper increase of 136% from January to June 2021 as the government lifted lockdown restrictions.

According to a December 2020 article from the BBC, a 34% spike in sales of the basic divorce agreement at a U.S. contract-creation service further indicates increased interest in divorce. Of these sales, 20% were to couples who’d gotten married in the past five months.

However, this does not necessarily indicate an increase in interest among newlyweds, as the most recent data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that 22% of marriages typically end in the first five months, whether by separation, divorce, or death.

It’s important to remember that a reduction in the rate of finalized divorces during the first year of the pandemic does not mean marriages were happier with the increased facetime. Shutdowns and restrictions made it more difficult for couples who wanted a divorce to start the legal process.

Additionally, Google Trends shows that searches for the term “divorce” in the U.S. saw a steep climb to a five-year high in May 2022, as the dust was settling on the first wave of the pandemic. Searches in Canada saw a near five-year high the same week, only slightly surpassed by a spike in searches the first week of August 2023 – typical for back-to-school, as we’ll explore in stat #8.

3. In the U.S., women initiate 69% of divorces in heterosexual marriages, but the rate of divorced women is decreasing (Source)

This trend continues beyond married women, as women are also more likely to initiate breakups among heterosexual couples who are unmarried but cohabitating, where 56% of breakups were wanted by women. Further, women initiate 53.4% of breakups among non-cohabiting, nonmarital heterosexual relationships.

However, the U.S. Census Bureau shows that fewer women are getting divorced. Data shows that 6.9 women per 1,000 divorced in 2021, compared to 9.7 women per 1,000 a decade earlier. In the report, women are defined as aged 15 years or older.

4. Nevada has the highest divorce rate at 4.2 per 1,000 people, and Massachussettes has the lowest at 1 per 1,000 people (Source)

Nevada also leads the nation with the highest marriage rate, at 26.2 marriages per 1,000 people annually. This is more than double than Hawaii, the state with the second highest marriage rate, at 12.8 marriages per 1,000 people.

Other states with the highest divorce rates include Oklahoma with 3.8 divorces per 1,000 residents, Wyoming with 3.7 divorces per 1,000 residents, and Alabama with 3.6 divorces per 1,000 residents. Rounding out the top 10 are Arkansas, Florida, Idaho, Kentucky, Mississippi, and Tennessee.

5. The yearly divorce rate in the U.S. is 10th highest in the world, at 2.5 divorces per 1,000 people (Source)

Meanwhile, the Maldives has the highest yearly divorce rate at 5.52 out of 1,000. That’s 2,984 divorces in a country with a population of 540,544. However, two decades ago the South Asian country’s divorce rate was significantly higher, at a world record 10.97 divorces per 1,000 residents.

Rounding out the top 10 are Kazakhstan, Russia, Belarus, China, Moldova, Ukraine, Lithuania, and Cyprus. Countries with the lowest divorce rates are India (at .01 divorces per 1,000 people), Mozambique, Kenya, Zimbabwe, Sri Lanka, Vietnam, South Africa, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Malta, and Colombia.

However, this is the crude divorce rate. A more granular analysis requires factoring in the marriage rate. For example, factoring in the rate of 6.1 marriages per 1,000 people, the rate works out to 2.26 divorces per new marriages – a percentage of 44%.

6. Couples who get married between ages 25 and 32 are least likely to divorce (Source)

Couples who tied the knot between ages 20 and 25 are 60% more likely to divorce, while couples older than 25 years old when they get married are 24% less likely to divorce.

While getting married younger than 25 can be a factor in divorce statistics, so can waiting. For people who are older than 32, divorce rates increase 5% annually until they marry.

For couples going through their first divorce, the average age for men is 32 and for women is 30. However, for divorcing couples overall, the average age is 46 for men and 44 for women.

Further, the Pew Research Center found that divorce rates among people in the over-50 age group have doubled since the 1990s, from 5 per 1,000 married persons to 10 per 1,000 married persons.

7. Top reason for divorce is lack of commitment, followed by infidelity and too much conflict (Source)

The National Library of Medicine found that three out of four divorcing couples cite lack of commitment as a reason, making it the most common cause for divorce in the U.S.

Other leading reasons included infidelity or extramarital affairs, with 60% of divorcing couples listing it as a reason, and too much conflict and arguing, at 58%.

Further, getting married too young was cited in 45% of divorces, followed by financial problems (37%), substance abuse (35%), and domestic violence (24%).

Rounding out the main reasons for divorce are lack of support from family (18%), health problems (17%), religious differences (13%), and little or no premarital education (13%).

8. Divorces peak in January and August (Source)

January is unofficially “divorce month,” as divorce lawyers’ offices seem to overflow with filings just after the New Year. There are two likely reasons for this – couples have either put off filing for divorce until after the holidays, or the “new year, new me” mindset gives individuals a final nudge to dissolve their marriage.

These theories are supported by data from Google Trends, which shows that over the past 12 months in the United States, interest in the search term “divorce” peaked in September but also saw a spike in January. Google users may have begun seriously contemplating divorce near the beginning of fall but waited until after seasonal family gatherings to take action.

However, Google Trends data shows that in Canada interest in the search term reached its peak the week from July 30 to Aug. 5. This should be expected, as August is another month for when divorces reach their peak.

Why is August another peak for divorce filings? Likely because no one wants to ruin their summer. People want peace and quiet, but when back-to-school season kicks in, so does reality. Household responsibilities start to peak, and the “glacial grudges” that contribute to so many divorces draw increasing attention, which can lead to a conversation that’s been a long time coming.

9. The yearly divorce rate among same sex couples is 2% – the same as heterosexual couples (Source)

Studies about divorce among same-sex couples is limited, but research by the Washington Post found that, in recent history, the divorce rate among same-sex couples is approximately 2% per year.

This means that, in any given year, there is a same-sex marriage has a 2% risk of divorce. This yearly divorce rate is the same as for heterosexual couples.

While there has been limited research into this topic, we can look across the pond to the UK for statistics that may indicate similar divorce trends in North America.

A report from the Office for National Statistics shows that female same-sex couples in the UK are twice as likely to divorce as male same-sex couples. There were 822 same-sex divorces in 2019. Of these, 72% were female couples.

This percentage was a slight decrease over the previous year, when 75% of same-sex divorces were among women. However, total same-sex divorces had nearly doubled year-over-year, from 428.

These figures are consistent with trends in the United States, where women are statistically more likely to become dissatisfied in relationships and initiate divorce.

The most common reason for divorce was the same among married heterosexual and same-sex couples. “Unreasonable behaviour” was cited by 49% of women and 35% of men in opposite-sex marriages, and by 63% of women and 70% of men in same-sex marriages.

10. Religion with the largest divorced population is Evangelical Protestant, while the Hindu population has the smallest (Source)

Couples with strong religious beliefs are 14% less likely to get divorced, and they are generally more likely to get married. Here is the breakdown among some of the major religious demographics in the United States, according to the Pew Research Center:

  • Protestant Evangelical – 55% are married and 14% are divorced/separated
  • Catholic – 52% are married and 12% are divorced/separated
  • Buddhist – 39% are married and 10% are divorced/separated
  • Jewish – 55% are married and 9% are divorced/separated
  • Muslim – 41% are married and 8% are divorced/separated
  • Hindu – 60% are married and 5% are divorced/separated

By contrast, nonreligious or unaffiliated people are less likely to be married, at 37%, and approximately 11% are divorced.

What these divorce rate statistics reveal – and additional notes

  • While divorces have been in decline for decades, the latest data has yet to reflect the full effect of the Covid-19 pandemic on divorce rates in the U.S. and Canada. Indications from various sources that divorces have seen an uptick may be reflected in 2023 data when it becomes available.

  • Of heterosexual marriages that end, statistically the woman is much more likely to initiate the split. This seems to be similar among same-sex marriages. But why is that? According to research, micro-grievances and grudges that form over time lead to higher rates of dissatisfaction among women in heterosexual marriages. Perceived inequities in handling family and household responsibilities, such as chores and caregiving for children and aging parents, can gradually add up. This underscores that marriage is not easy and requires consistent dedication and effort from both parties, as well as the challenges of maintaining long-term relationships.

  • Among all the factors that contribute to divorce, looking at U.S. divorce rates through a legal lens reveals a perhaps unexpected contributor: how easy it is. Nevada’s laws surrounding marriage and divorce are likely the reason the Silver State leads the nation in both of these categories, as well as Las Vegas’s status as a wedding destination. In Nevada, a couple can get married immediately after receiving a marriage license. It also has no-fault divorce, meaning couples can divorce without stating a reason.

  • This extends to the countries with the highest and lowest divorce rates. As we’ve mentioned, a lower divorce rate doesn’t mean people are happily married. Legal access to divorce, as well as safety concerns and a woman’s ability to support herself financially and socially without help from a man, are factors we should keep in mind. Additionally, the current economic crisis may be a factor in who can “afford” to get divorced.

  • While lack of commitment, infidelity, and too much conflict are the leading reasons for divorce in the U.S., these are symptoms of a deeper problem – lack of alignment. When one partner evolves faster than the other, the other partner lags behind. The evolving partner wants new things that the lagger can no longer provide. This disconnect can be the root cause of their divorce. 

  • Lastly, it’s interesting that every time families have a break to stop and think, divorce rates spike. In January, after the holidays, and in August, after summer break, the downtime – or, depending on the family, perhaps periods of heightened stress – tends to precede a wave of divorces.

6 tips for avoiding divorce

While some marriages reach a point where following tips and advice can’t turn it around, for many parents there are ways to restore a failing marriage.

In data gathered through a small in-house study, many respondents expressed a desire to heal their marriage rather than end it, even though the majority of them felt things had passed a point of no return.

When asked about themselves, half of the 38 respondents to a Irooze’s self-assessment survey said they wanted to move forward with their lives, nearly a quarter said they felt confident in their decision to divorce, six respondents said they would like things to get better in their relationship, two respondents said they tend to want to control the relationship, and two said they felt like they’d lost themselves in their marriage.

Here are six pieces of advice to consider if you want to help restore or maintain the health of your marriage, before it gets to a point where you or your partner feel the relationship can’t be restored.

1. Check in once a year

Set marriage goals with a yearly check-in. Once a year, spend 24-48 hours of quality time together with no distractions, away from kids. Use this time to re-evaluate your individual goals and your goals as a couple.

Everyone should have their own personal goals as to maintain their self-identity. But as a couple, make sure you’re aligned on your marriage goals. If you’re not, find the missing piece and immediately fuze that piece back together before it creates a permanent break.

 2. Cultivate effective communication

Your words matter. Communication breakdown is a leading issue in failing marriages. Feeling misunderstood or ignored can lead to frustration and escalate to anger, causing conflict and emotional distance.

Speak up, even when it’s challenging. Open and honest communication is the cornerstone to a strong relationship. Staying silent is not a solution. Express your feelings, desires, and concerns respectfully and clearly.

Active listening is equally important to understand your partner’s viewpoint. Create an environment where both partners feel seen and heard to avoid isolation and misunderstanding. Regular relationship check-ins can prevent minor issues from becoming major problems.

3. Own your mistakes

Master the art of saying you’re sorry. This begins with having the self-awareness to identify where you are at fault. Taking responsibility for your mistakes and offering a genuine apology can transform conflicts into opportunities for growth and deepen your bond.

When you point a finger at someone, three fingers are pointing back at you. Remember, it takes two to tango and both parties play a role. Avoid playing the blame game. Instead, acknowledge your role and take responsibility.

A heartfelt apology involves expressing remorse, accepting responsibility, and suggesting ways to avoid repeating the issue. Sincerity and vulnerability build trust and strengthen the relationship’s foundation, making the art of genuine apology essential for a loving, resilient marriage.

4. Revive romance

As the responsibilities and pressures of life begin to crowd in, it can be easy to deprioritize romance. Don’t let distractions diminish the importance of your relationship.

  • Prioritize spending quality time together. Schedule weekly date nights and share in the planning.
  • Rekindle the excitement of your early romance with creative and thoughtful gestures.
  • Listen to your favorite music and dance in the kitchen as you prepare a meal together.
  • Enjoy a couples massage.
  • Small acts of affection, like flirting and holding hands during a walk, significantly strengthen your bond.

Romance and a strong emotional connection are vital for a healthy marriage. Reconnect through intimacy. Ignite passion in the bedroom. In rocky relationships, this can be challenging, but it can also serve as an effective icebreaker and enhance closeness.

5. Don’t try to change your partner

Balancing togetherness and independence is needed for a healthy marriage. Spending too much time together can be overwhelming, while too little may seem neglectful. Respect your partner’s desire for space, offering support like caring for the kids or running errands. At the same time, actively make time for each other.

Mutual respect is essential. Avoid trying to control your partner. Appreciate each other’s individuality and autonomy, collaborate on important decisions, and have the freedom to come and go without permission.

Maintaining individuality through personal growth, hobbies, and friendships helps create a more balanced and harmonious relationship.

6. Embrace the power of compromise

Compromise is an invaluable tool, as no one can always have their way. It involves more than just yielding – it’s about fair negotiation to achieve a mutually beneficial outcome.

This win-win approach is a practical and healthy way for navigating the roller-coaster of marriage. Mastering compromise entails understanding and respecting each partner’s needs and finding a balanced solution. This can lead to a flourishing relationship and help prevent divorce.

How Irooze Can Help

We support parents who are newly separated or contemplating divorce by referring them to our network of coaches, experts, and other divorce trained professionals. These trained experts can help them in more effective ways than a lawyer or therapist can – and with less emotional pain and lower legal costs.

Our coaches are here to help you with various needs, from daily support coaches to parenting coaches, high-conflict divorce coaches, and coaches trained to help you when representing yourself in court.

Our proprietary self-assessments provide you with immediate results. Then, on a complimentary strategy call with a divorce coach, you will carefully evaluate where you are and where you want to be. The divorce coach will help you create a tailor-made strategy or exit plan. We’ll guide you through this while evaluating and solving the challenges in the seven pillars of your life:

  1. Emotional
  2. Financial
  3. Spiritual
  4. Parenting
  5. Mindset
  6. Career
  7. Physical

That’s why our slogan is “everything divorce.”

There’s no way to guarantee a lasting marriage. But there are proactive steps that parents can take, and tools and techniques that they can use, to avoid a divorce that leaves them broke and broken – whether financially or emotionally.

If you are considering or in the process of a divorce, it’s important to analyze your level of satisfaction and what needs improvement in these seven pillars.

We don’t know how to marry, and we certainly don’t know how to divorce. As a result, people generally have a very limited scope of thinking. One of our goals at Irooze is to help you start thinking outside of the box. We will dive deeper into this in our (free) self-assessment.

Our purposes in divorce coaching include helping you restructure and rebuild your life as a whole, carefully and methodically, pillar by pillar, for long-lasting effectiveness, and to truly protect your children, while always keeping in mind the divorce legacy you want to leave them. 

How? 

By replacing the old and outdated divorce paradigm that has destroyed too many families. After all, who hasn’t heard at least one horror story? 

Following the status quo, navigating your divorce the same way as everyone else, is like the blind leading the blind. Instead, we help you elevate relationships for a better world. We help parents develop the tools, strategies, and techniques to be mature, sane, and reasonable  – which are three words we typically don’t hear in a divorce process.

Finding the right divorce coach and vetted divorce trained professional from our Divorce Directory can help you:

  • Move forward through the challenges.
  • Navigate the divorce process.
  • Create strategies and plans.
  • Think logically instead of emotionally.
  • Save time, money, and unnecessary stress.

These resources can provide families with guidance, direction, and support. They can give you a neutral support system, hold you accountable, and help you stay focused on your end goal with a future-forward approach. They will help you ensure your responses, reactions and decisions are aligned with the divorce legacy you want to leave your children. 

If you have questions about Irooze or our services, please contact us.

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