Divorce is a topic many people avoid.
Despite this, the bottom line is it’s a lot more common than you think.
That said, discussing divorce, especially in numbers, is crucial.
Knowing the facts and statistics about divorce helps make this painful situation easier to understand and navigate.
On top of that, it can also help you realize that you are not alone.
If you want to know more about how common divorce is and the factors that affect it, keep reading.
What does divorce look like in the US?
According to the UN, divorce rates in the US more than doubled:
From 2.2 per 1,000 people in 1960 to 5 per 1,000 in the 1980s.
In 2019, the divorce rate in the country fell to 2.7 per 1,000 people (only for 44 states).
Researchers estimate the following:
- 41% of first marriages will end in divorce
- 60% of second marriages will end in divorce
- 73% of third marriages will end in divorce
The US has one of the top divorce rates in the world.
There is a divorce in the US every 42 seconds.
This equals to 86 divorces per hour, 2,046 per day, 14,364 per week, and 746,971 annually.
Of Americans 18 years or older (whether married or not), 25% have experienced a marital split in their life.
15% of adult women are separated or divorced.
This is significantly more than in the 1920s when the statistic was less than 1%.
According to data from the CDC, here are the five states with the highest divorce rates (per 1,000 population):
- Nevada: 5.6
- West Virginia: 5.2
- Arkansas: 5.3
- Idaho: 4.9
- Oklahoma: 5.2
Meanwhile, the five states with the lowest divorce rate are (per 1,000 population):
- Iowa: 2.4
- Illinois: 2.6
- Massachusetts: 2.7
- North Dakota: 2.7
- Pennsylvania: 2.8
Half of the children in the US will see their parent’s marriage fail.
Nearly 50% of those will see their parent’s second marriage fail.
Only around 5% of divorces are decided in the courtroom.
95% of divorce cases settle their issues amicably or in mediation.
In the US, over 1 million women went through a divorce.
In the US, experts say that people have a 39% chance of getting divorced, compared to 50% in the 1980s.
In the US, divorce among people over 45 has been rising since the 1990s.
In 2014, 69% of Americans thought that divorce was morally acceptable.
In 2001, only 45% thought the same.
Among people aged 54 to 64, the divorce rate has quadrupled over the past 3 decades.
This is called “Gray Divorce.”
Women initiate 1 in 3 of these types of divorces.
In the US, Asian women and men have the lowest likelihood of divorce at 14% and 11%, respectively.
What are the numbers on divorce around the world?
There has been an overall increase in divorce rates since the 1970s.
According to the UN, adults aged 35 to 39 (separated or divorced) have doubled - from 2% in the 1970s to 4% in the 2000s.
For most countries, the rate of divorce increased drastically between the 1970s and 1990s.
In South Korea, the UK, and Norway, divorce rates have more than tripled between the 1970s and 1990s.
Here are the countries with the highest crude divorce rates per 1,000 population:
- Russia: 4.8
- Belarus: 4.1
- Gibraltar: 3.2
- US: 3.2
- Moldova: 3.1
- Lithuania: 3
- Belgium: 3
- Cuba: 2.9
- Czech Republic: 2.9
- Ukraine: 2.8
- Switzerland: 2.8
- Bermuda: 2.7
- Jordan: 2.6
- Denmark: 2.6
- San Marino: 2.5
- Finland: 2.5
- Sweden: 2.5
- Costa Rica: 2.5
- Portugal: 2.5
- Hungary: 2.4
Over a four-decade period, 67% of first marriages end.
Women mostly file for divorce, at 66%.
This statistic has increased to 75% in recent years.
In 2020, the lowest crude marriage rates in Europe were:
- Italy: 1.6 per 1,000 people
- Portugal: 1.8 per 1,000 people
- Spain: 1.9 per 1,000 people
In 2020, 103,592 couples divorced in the UK.
This was a 4% decrease compared to 2019.
Of these, 102,438 were opposite-sex couples, and 1,154 were same-sex couples.
In the UK, women file 62% of divorce petitions in opposite-sex partnerships.
Is divorce common in the LGBTQ community?
In one data roundup, 1% of same-sex couples divorce each year, compared to 2% of married straight couples.
In the UK, lesbian couples are twice as likely to end their marriage/civil union compared to gay male couples.
The divorce rate in states that allow same-sex marriage is 3.1 per 1,000 people in the US.
For states that prohibit it, the rate is 3.9 per 1,000 people.
Source: Wilkinson & Finkbeiner
What are the marriage statistics in the US and the rest of the world?
Marriage rates in the US have fallen by almost 50% since 1972. Currently, the country has the lowest divorce rate in recorded history.
Of men born in 1940, 83% were married at 30 years old.
Among people born in 1980, only 25% were married by the same age.
In 2019, 6.1 per 1,000 people were married in the US.
As of 2019, marriage rates in the US have decreased.
Studies have proven that millennials are choosing to wait longer before getting married.
How common are single-parent households?
Women are the head of most single-parent households. This gender gap can be observed more in parents of younger children.
For instance, in OECD countries, 12% of children 0-5 years old live with a single parent, and 92% of these single parents are women.
Single-parent households are among the most financially vulnerable groups today, even in rich countries.
In European countries, 47% of single-parent households were at risk of poverty and social exclusion.
43% of children in the US are raised without their fathers.
More than 79% of custodial mothers get child support awards.
Meanwhile, just under 30% of custodial fathers receive one.
65% of divorced mothers don’t get any child support.
More than 46% of non-custodial mothers default on child support entirely, compared to only 27% of non-custodial fathers.
Source: Our World in Data
When do most couples divorce?
From the 1960s to the 1990s, the number of marriages that ended in divorce was:
1.5% of couples in 1963 divorced before celebrating their 5th anniversary.
Meanwhile, 7.8% divorced before their 10th anniversary, and 19% divorced before their 20th anniversary.
By the mid-1990s, the statistics increased to 11%, 25%, and 38%, respectively.
The number of couples who divorced in their first five years peaked in the 1990s.
In the US, 48% of couples married in the 1970s divorced within 25 years.
According to one survey, here is the median duration of first marriages that end in divorce:
- Males: 7.8 years
- Females: 7.9 years
Meanwhile, here’s the duration for second marriages:
- Males: 7.3 years
- Females: 6.8 years
The average age of couples that go through their first divorce is 30.
60% of divorces involve people aged 25 to 39.
January is dubbed “divorce month,” with January 12-16 as the magic week for divorce filings.
What happens after divorce?
People wait an average of 3 years before remarrying after divorce (if they remarry at all).
Remarriage among divorced and widowed women isn’t high at only 29 out of every 1,000. This is a 2011 statistic.
In a Canadian survey, 19% of men reported a significant drop in social support after their divorce.
27% of recently divorced women had less than $25,000 in annual household income. 17% of recently divorced men report the same.
60% of people under poverty guidelines are divorced women and children.
One study showed that broken marriages can kill at the same rate as cigarettes.
Divorcees are 23% at risk of dying compared to married people.
16% of children live in a blended family or a household with a step-parent, half-sibling, or step-sibling.
The effects caused by divorce on children, such as shock, anger, and anxiety, are usually resolved by the end of the second year after the divorce.
However, a minority of children may take longer to adjust.
Children have more difficulty adjusting to divorce if their parents have a high conflict rate.
Women who experienced divorce in the past year were 20% more likely to be in poverty compared to men at 11%.
What are the costs associated with divorce?
A researcher found that a single divorce costs the US state and federal governments roughly $30,000.
This is based on higher use of food stamps, public housing, increased bankruptcies, and juvenile delinquency.
In the UK, family breakdown costs taxpayers £48 billion per year.
The various factors that affect this include effects on health, extra housing support, legal aid, and lost work hours, among other factors.
Families with children that were not poor before their divorce saw their income drop as much as 50% after the divorce.
Almost 50% of parents with children experience poverty after the divorce.
The average total cost of divorce in the US is $15,000.
In 2022, 1.4 million divorces in the US cost taxpayers $30 billion.
Do income and spending habits play a factor in divorce?
Income may play a role in divorce. Groups with the most divorces were adults making less than $20,000 per year at 39%.
The likelihood of divorce is 97% higher when mothers go to work.
Still, husbands only make a minimal contribution to childcare and housework.
Earning over $50,000 per year decreases the likelihood of divorce by 30% compared to people who make less than $25,000 per year.
If one spouse spends money foolishly, the risk of divorce is increased by 45%.
Couples that fight about money/finances at least once a week are 30% at risk of divorce.
Couples with no assets in the first three years of their marriage are 70% more likely to divorce by the end of that period compared to those with $10,000 in assets.
Source: Wilkinson & Finkbeiner
Does smoking and alcohol use affect divorce?
Couples are 76% to 95% more likely to divorce if one of them smokes.
The risk increases when the wife is the one who smokes.
Couples where both smoke are 53% more likely to divorce compared to non-smoking couples, according to a 1996 study.
Each liter of consumed alcohol increases the chance of divorce by 20%.
To put things into perspective, the average American drinks 9.8 liters of alcohol annually.
According to a 9-year study by the University of Buffalo, those with similar heavy drinking patterns, both heavy drinkers or not, are more likely not to divorce.
That said, if one spouse is a heavy drinker and the other is not, they are 60% more likely to end their marriage.
Source: Wilkinson & Finkbeiner
What are other factors that affect divorce?
Here are the professions with the highest divorce rates:
- Dancers: 43%
- Bartenders: 38.4%
- Massage Therapists: 38.2%
- Gaming Cage Workers: 34.6%
- Gaming Service Workers: 31.327%
Meanwhile, here are the professions with the lowest divorce rates:
- Farmers: 7.63%
- Podiatrists: 6.81%
- Clergy: 5.61%
- Optometrists: 4.01%
- Agricultural Engineers: 1.78%
Here are the groups that had a prolific experience with divorce:
- Baby boomers: 38%
- Those that have non-Christian faith: 38%
- African-Americans: 36%
- Those who consider themselves liberal on political and social matters: 37%
For couples with one spouse in prison, the divorce rate is over 80% for men and around 100% for women.
48% of people who marry before 18 years are likely to end their marriage within 10 years.
In comparison, 25% of couples who marry after the age of 25 end in divorce.
60% of couples who marry between 20 to 25 years old will divorce.
If you or your partner have been married before, you are 90% more likely to get divorced.
Individuals who drop out of high school are 13% more likely to end their marriages.
People with “below average” IQs are 50% more likely to end their marriage compared to those with “above average” IQs.
People who live in a republican state are 27% more likely to get divorced compared to those who live in a Democratic state.
Living together before marriage increases the risk of divorce by 40%.
This is important, considering over 60% of cohabiting couples marry.
Women who have lived with more than one partner before their first marriage are 40% more likely to get divorced than those who have never cohabited with someone.
Couples who met in bars are 24% more likely to divorce.
Women who lost their virginity in their teens are more likely to get divorced in the first 5 years of their marriage compared to women who lost their virginity at 18 years old or older.
Another 2011 study found that men and women who lost their virginity before turning 18 had a higher risk for divorce within the first decade of their marriage.
One study found that women who started their sexual activities in their early 20s and at ages 13 or 14 were 50% less likely to be in a stable marriage by age 30.
In the study, a stable marriage was defined as a marriage that lasted over 5 years.
Women with 6 or more premarital sexual partners are 3 times less likely to be in a stable marriage.
According to a multi-national study of mental disorders published in 2011, a sample of 18 mental disorders all affected the risk of divorce, increasing its likelihood from between 20% to 80%.
In the study, addictions and major depression were the highest factors.
It’s also worth noting that PTSD played a significant role in divorce.
If a close friend gets divorced, you are 147% more likely to become divorced.
If a friend of a friend is divorced, you are 33% more likely to get divorced.
According to studies at the University of California and Brown University, working with someone who is in the process of divorcing increases your chances of divorce by up to 75%.
38% of people who seek marriage counseling end up divorcing just two years later, according to New York Times.
Source: Wilkinson & Finkbeiner,
What are the reasons cited by people for divorce?
Based on a national survey, here are the most common reasons cited by divorcing couples:
- Lack of commitment: 73%
- Argue too much: 56%
- Infidelity: 55%
- Married too young: 46%
- Unrealistic expectations: 45%
- Lack of equality in the relationship: 44%
- Lack of preparation for marriage: 41%
- Domestic Violence or Abuse: 25%
One study of divorce petitions showed that nearly 15% cited video game addiction as a major factor.
Pornography addiction is a major factor in 56% of divorces, according to another study.
It’s interesting that marriages with twins or triplets are 17% more likely to end.
Couples with a daughter are nearly 5% more likely to divorce than those with a son.
If you have 3 daughters or more, the likelihood of divorce spiked to 10%.
Having a kid before marriage increases the risk of divorce by 24%.
According to a sample of divorcing parents, Hawkins, Willoughby, and Doherty found that the most common reasons for divorce from a list of possible choices are:
- Growing apart: 55%
- Not being able to talk together: 53%
- How one’s spouse handled money: 40%
Meanwhile, Amato and Previti (2003) found that when divorced individuals were asked open-endedly to provide their reasons for divorce, the most common reasons were the following:
- Infidelity: 21.6%
- Incompatibility: 19.2%
- Drinking or drug use: 10.6%
In one study, 42.3% of participants and 77.8% of couples said they wished they had known more about their ex-spouse before marriage.
In the same study, 30.8% of participants wished they recognized their spouse’s “red flags” before getting married.
When participants were asked who was to blame for their divorce, 65.8% of men and 73.8% of women believed their ex-spouse should have worked harder to save their marriages.
Meanwhile, 31.6% of men and 33.3% of women said they should have worked harder.
Does family history affect divorce?
The risk of divorce decreases by 14% for those whose parents are happily married.
For those whose parents remarried after divorcing, the risk of divorce increases by 91%.
Nicholas Wolfinger’s “Understanding the Divorce Cycle” states that the risk of divorce is 50% more likely when one spouse comes from a divorced home.
The risk climbs 200% higher when both partners do.
According to the same study, children of divorce are 50% more likely to marry another child of divorce.
Many studies show that daughters of divorced parents have a 60% higher divorce rate in marriages compared to children of non-divorced parents.
One study showed that people with divorced sisters or brothers are 22% more likely to get divorced compared to those whose siblings did not get divorced.
Does social media play a factor in divorce?
According to a UK study, Facebook is cited in 1 in 3 divorce petitions.
1 in 3 divorces starts as online affairs.
1 in 5 married couples thinks about divorce due to their partner’s social media activity.
81% of divorce attorneys have used/encountered evidence from social media.
14% of adults go through their partner’s social media account to look for evidence of infidelity.
What factors decrease the likelihood of divorce?
Here are the groups with the lowest likelihood of divorce:
- Catholics: 28%
- Evangelicals: 26%
- People who make $75,000 per year: 22%
- Asians: 20%
- Those who consider themselves conservative on political and social matters: 28%
People who have strong religious beliefs are 14% less likely to divorce compared to those who do not have a religious affiliation.
Individuals who attended college are 13% less likely to end their marriages.
If you met your partner in high school, college, or grad school, your marriage is 41% less likely to divorce.
One study by the University of Rochester showed that watching romantic movies and conversing with your partner about it lowers the risk of divorce from 24% to 11% in marriages of 3 years.
Couples with children are 40% less likely to divorce than those without.