The Rising Rate of Divorce

Most Americans will agree that marriage is always preferable to divorce and that marriage is better for the family, the children and the community in general.
However, divorce is a fact of modern life and the divorce rates have been on the rise in the United States for several decades now. With the introduction of no-fault divorce in all 50 states along with the do-it-yourself divorce kits and divorce document services available nationwide, it is now easier and takes less time to get a divorce in this country than ever before. Given the circumstances, it should not be a surprise that the divorce rate continues to rise right along with the population.

It was not as easy to get a divorce in this country back around the turn of the century when it was necessary to prove that a serious fault existed in the marriage like abuse, adultery or abandonment. Back then, the divorce rate in America was less than 5%. The divorce rate remained fairly stable until the end of the Second World War when thousands of soldiers returned to their home towns across the nation. The 50’s were a period of gradual growth for the nation, but the divorce rate remained relatively low until the 1960’s ushered in an era of rapid change where an expanding economy met the rise of feminism and large numbers of women first entered the workforce.

In the 1950’s the divorce rate in the United States was around 14%. By the mid-seventies, no fault divorce laws had been adopted in most states across the country and the number of marriages decreased by 30%, while the number of divorces had risen to nearly 40%. Since that time, the divorce rate in the U.S. has slowly risen to the point that many researchers now claim the overall rate of divorces has reached 50%, or half of all marriages in the nation. Some recent research suggests that the 50% divorce rate does not represent all the various groups within the U.S. population and that the actual divorce rate is now lower than it was in the mid-1970’s in some specific sectors.

Crunching the numbers to come up with a total U.S. divorce rate is an inexact science and many different factors and methods of counting have been employed over the years. The factors reflecting lower overall divorce numbers for some groups include education and wealth, with the chances of divorce shrinking for those with higher educations and middle-class or above incomes. The numbers also show that people with lower levels of income and education, get more divorces and couples who marry below age 22 have higher divorce rates than those who get married in their 30’s or beyond.

There has not been a consensus on the total divorce rate but there is no arguing the fact that the changes introduced to state laws with the adoption of no fault divorces in the 70’s did result in an increasing number of divorces. No fault divorces were at first thought to be a positive solution to the lengthy and costly adversarial divorce process, however in reality, the introduction of no fault divorce laws made getting a divorce so much easier that more people were inclined to do it.

The no fault laws may have made divorce less painful for adult spouses, but the increase in the number of divorces created more hardship for families and children overall. The result is that the no fault laws did streamline the divorce process, but they also resulted in more divorces that would not have otherwise occurred. Some researchers have estimated that the adoption of no fault laws have increased the number of divorces in the United States by as much as 25% since their introduction.

It is a sad fact that some marriages last until “death do us part” and the rest will end in divorce. Americans today are also living longer than ever before, and all those extra years might just give them more time to consider getting divorced along the way. If the current trends continue, it’s a good bet that the divorce rate in the United States will continue to rise for at least the next decade.