Have you heard of the long-standing, depressing statistic that nearly 50% of marriages are likely to end in divorce? Well, that number varies now since divorce rates have been dropping for decades since the 1980s (when the 50% divorce statistic made sense).
Divorce is a legal process in the United States and most countries around the world.
We have created this comprehensive guide of the United States divorce statistics, including the divorce rates in opposite and same-sex marriages, the age of people divorcing, how much education, politics, religion, and ethnicity impact divorce, the financial implications of divorce, and so much more.
Here are all the divorce statistics and facts we could come up with.
The divorce rate in the United States
According to the Centers for Disease Control, the number of marriages in 2020 (the latest data available) was 1,676,911, bringing the national average marriage rate to 5.1 per 1,000 total population.
In this same year, the number of divorces recorded was 630,505. So, the national average divorce rate stood at 2.3 per 1,000.
The 2020 figures were in sharp contrast to those in 2010, when the marriage rate was 6.8 per 1,000 people and the divorce rate was 3.6 per 1,000 people. This shows that the divorce rate was down to almost 64%. A lower divorce rate means longer marriages, which is a good thing.
Top divorce statistics you should know
The following statistics show the divorce rate in the U.S.
- The United States has the sixth-highest divorce rate in the world.
- Every 36 seconds, there’s a divorce happening in America. This translates to 2400 divorces per day, 16,800 divorces weekly, and 876,000 divorces yearly.
- According to US Census Bureau, the average length of a first marriage lasts about 8.2 years before it ends in a divorce.
- Remarriage after the first divorce increases the chance of divorce.
- Research shows that 41% of first marriages end in divorce, 60% of second marriages end in divorce, and 73% of third marriages end in divorce.
- Psychology Today says that 10-15% of divorced couples reconcile after separation. 6% of couples remarry after a divorce. Of those that remarry, 30% divorce each other for the second time.
- There are two high-risk periods in a marriage; years 1-2 and 5-8.
- January is unofficially recognized as the Divorce month, but most divorces peak between March and August.
Divorce statistics by state
According to the World Population Review, the following states have the highest divorce rate per 1,000 population in the US:
- Arkansas – 10.7
- Oklahoma – 10.4
- Nevada – 10.2
- New Mexico – 10.2
- Kentucky – 10.1
- Wyoming – 10
- Delaware – 9.4
- Utah – 9.4
- Kansas – 9.2
- Alabama/Missouri – 9.1
The following are the ten states with the lowest divorce rate per 1,000 people.
- Maine – 4.8
- District of Columbia – 4.8
- South Dakota – 6.0
- Pennsylvania – 6.1
- New York – 6.1
- Illinois – 6.2
- New Jersey – 6.3
- Lowa – 6.3
- Wisconsin – 6.4
- Massachusetts – 6.4
Divorce rates by gender
The American Sociological Association reported that more women initiate divorce than men. As part of the report, women initiated 69% of all divorces, compared to 31% initiated by men.
- According to this law firm, the national divorce rate stands at 16.3 per 1,000 women.
- 15% of women are currently divorced or separated.
- The median length of a first marriage that ends in divorce is 7.8 years for men and 7.9 years for women.
- The average length of a second marriage that ends in a divorce is 7.3 years for men and 6.8 years for women.
- After a divorce, people wait an average of three years to remarry (if they choose to remarry) – 3.3 years for men and 3.1 years for men.
Divorce rates by age
The average age for people going through their first divorce is 30.
According to US Census Bureau,
- About 33% of men and 34% of women of those aged 20 years and older who had married were divorced.
- The divorce rate among those aged 55-64 was 43%.
- The divorce rate of those between 65-74 years old was 39%.
- For those 75 years and older, the rate was 24%.
In addition, according to the Los Angeles Times, the divorce rate for people over 50 has doubled since 1990. This is known as “gray divorce,” and it can take a toll on the emotional and financial health of those involved, far worse than divorce at a younger age.
According to this study, gray divorce can cause a very serious form of depression, worse than experiencing the death of a spouse.
Divorce rates by generations
Generally, the number of divorces per 1,000 people has declined over the years.
- Baby Boomers are likely to get divorced the most among our current generations of marriages. More than 30% of all divorces are from those over 50 years old.
- The millennial divorce rate is lower than that of older generations, hovering around 25%.
- Gen z is approaching marriage differently and marrying less or waiting until they’re older to get married. Their divorce rates are likely to remain low, like in millennials.
Divorce rates by occupation
Occupation may not be the top contributing factor to divorce, but it might have some impact based on financial stability, workplace environment, and overall satisfaction.
Some occupations have a favorable association with long-lasting marriages, while others don’t.
Here are the professions with the highest and lowest divorce rates.
- Gaming managers: 52.9%
- Bartenders: 52.7%
- Flight attendants: 50.5
- Gaming service workers: 50.3%
- Rolling machine setters: 50.1%
- Switchboard operators: 49.7%
- Extruding machine operators: 49.6%
- Telemarketers: 49.2%
- Textile and knitting operators: 48.9%
- Compacting machine operators: 48.8%
Professions with the lowest divorce rates include:
- Actuaries: 17%
- Physical scientists: 18.9%
- Medical and life scientists: 19.6%
- Clergy: 19.8%
- Software developers: 20.3%
- Physical therapists: 20.7%
- Optometrists: 20.8%
- Chemical engineers: 21.1%
- Religious and education directors: 21.3%
- Physicians and surgeons: 21.8%
Divorce rates by religion
Religious people are less likely to divorce because they have strong moral beliefs about marriage.
According to the Pew Research Center, these are low rates. Black protestants have a higher divorce rate, while Hindus have the lowest divorce rate.
- Historically black protestant: 19%
- Evangelical protestant: 14%
- Catholic: 12%
- Jehovah’s witness: 12%
- Mainline protestant: 12%
- Unaffiliated: 11%
- Buddhist: 10%
- Jewish: 9%
- Orthodox Christian: 9%
- Muslim: 8%
- Mormon: 7%
- Hindu: 5%
Divorce rates by education level
According to Eli J. Finkel, a psychologist and the author of “The All or Nothing Marriage,” people with no high school degree or who are uneducated have a higher divorce rate and a lower marriage rate (Business Insider). Furthermore, when they marry, the marriage is unlikely to be as fulfilling.
The National Center for Health and Statistics estimated that 78% of college-educated women were still married for at least 20 years, compared to 40% of women with a high school diploma or less.
This study by BGSU shows the following divorce rates per 1,000 women:
- Less than high school degree: 16.4
- High school degree/GED: 16.4
- Some college: 20.4
- Bachelor’s: 14.1
- Masters+: 12.5
Divorce rates by ethnicity
Black women are most likely to have a higher divorce rate than women of other races.
In 2018, the divorce rates (per 1,000) for women were as follows:
- Black women, 30.8
- Hispanic women, 18.5
- White women, 15.1
- Others (Asian, American Indian, Alaska Native, and multiracial women), 12.4
Divorce and political affiliation
Do political differences cause divorce?
Some people are very passionate about politics, and most conversations often end up being heated. Politics can lead to difficult interactions between spouses and may affect the stability of some marriages. And eventually, it may lead to divorce. May is the keyword.
According to Wilkinson & Finkbeiner, conservatives are less likely to get divorced, with a 28% divorce rate, compared to liberals’ 37% and moderates’ 33%. Also, red states (Republicans) have a 27% higher divorce rate than blue states (Democrats).
Divorce rates by financial stability
Income affects the decision to marry and could ultimately lead to divorce.
- Couples earning less have a higher divorce rate than medium and upper-class income earners.
- Those earning $50,000 or more per year are 30% less likely to divorce than those earning less than $25,000 per year.
- According to flowing data, there has been a decrease in divorce rates for income brackets between 10,000 to 200,000 per year, after which the rates seem to go up and down between 20-30%.
- In the 1980s, the divorce rate for lower-income couples (less than 30,000 per year) was around 20%. There has been a slight decrease, and the rate is about 17%.
- Women under 25 years old with no income or college education are 40% more likely to get a divorce compared to a 20% for married women with an income.
- Married couples that disagree about finances more often are 30% more likely to divorce than those who argue a few times a month.
Same-sex divorce rates
The US Census Bureau stated that of all same-sex marriages in 2019, 53.4% were female, while 46.6% were male.
The divorce rate for same-sex couples is 3.1 per 1,000 people in states that allow same-sex marriages. This percentage is up from 1.1 per 1,000 people in 2015, when same-sex marriages were legalized.
The data used in the 2019 study was collected from three large samples of same-sex and heterosexual couples from the United States and Canada. The study results showed that the divorce rate for same-sex couples was higher than that of opposite-sex couples. Same-sex couples with kids had a divorce rate of 43% compared to 8% for heterosexual couples.
Another study shows that lesbians in committed relationships don’t last longer than gay males in committed relationships.
Divorce rates by addiction & mental health
- Married couples are 76-95% more likely to divorce when one spouse smokes (the rate might be higher when the wife is a smoker).
- If both partners smoke, they are 53% more likely to divorce than those who don’t.
- This study shows that drinking one liter of alcohol per capita increases the divorce rate by 20%.
- Couples with substance abuse and addiction problems are 40-50% more likely to divorce. The rate is higher for subsequent marriages.
- A study by the University of Buffalo states that divorce is 50% more likely if one spouse is a heavy drinker. The rate is slightly higher if the wife is a heavy drinker.
- However, the divorce rate for two heavy drinkers is the same as for non-heavy drinkers at 30%.
- One study on 18 mental disorders conducted by the National Center for Biotechnology Information states that the disorders increase the likelihood of divorce by 20–80%. The top factors with the largest impact are addiction, major depression, and post-traumatic stress syndrome (PTSD).
Social media usage is not intrinsically wrong. However, frequent use can eventually lead to divorce as issues such as infidelity, conflicts, and jealousy increase.
- A study published by Computers in Human Behavior predicts that someone who doesn’t use social media is over 11% happier in marriage than someone on social media.
- In addition, the same study found that an increase in Facebook enrollments caused a 2.18% – 4.32% increase in divorce rates.
Divorce rates for interracial couples
Several studies have found that divorce rates for interracial spouses are higher than for same-race couples.
- The interracial marriage divorce rate is 15.1% higher than for couples within the same race.
- According to Pew Research Center, 41% of interracial couples divorce by their 10th year of marriage, compared with a 31% chance among same-race married couples.
Military divorce rates
According to Military.com, from the data provided by the Pentagon in 2019, the divorce rate for military couples is as follows:
- The divorce rate among female troops is much higher (almost three times) than that of their male counterparts at 7% compared to 2.5%.
- The divorce rate for enlisted troops was higher at 3.5% compared to that of officers at 1.7%.
- Marine corps and Air Force have the lowest divorce rate at 2.3%.
- Members of the Navy seals have the highest divorce rate at 2.8%.
What are the most common reasons for divorce?
The following are the top 10 contributing factors to divorce, as revealed by a study conducted on 52 divorced people. All the subjects participated in the Prevention and Relationship Enhancement Program (PREP) before their wedding.
- Lack of commitment: 75%
- Infidelity or extramarital affairs: 59.6%
- Too much conflict: 57.7%
- Getting married young: 45.1%
- Financial issues: 36.1%
- Substance abuse: 34.6%
- Domestic violence: 23.5%
- Health problems: 18.2%
- Lack of family support: 17.3%
- Religious differences: 13.3%
Note: The participants were able to select more than one cause for divorce. That’s why the percentages don’t add up to 100%.
Contributing factors to divorce
Factors such as close friends and family, parents’ relationships, and kids can more or less likely lead to divorce.
Where you met
According to this study titled “Relative Strangers: The Importance of Social Capital for Marriage,”
- Couples who meet online are 12% more likely to get divorced within their first three years of marriage, increasing to 17% after seven years. This rate is compared to a 2% likelihood of divorce for couples who meet through friends or family, increasing to 10% after three and seven years, respectively.
- Couples who meet at school are 8% likely to divorce, while those who meet at work have a divorce rate of 7% compared to the 2% and 3% of those who meet through friends and family or at bars, respectively.
How coworkers can increase divorce rates
- Coworkers who are all of the opposite sex are likely to increase the probability of divorce by 70% compared to those of the same sex.
- If a third of your coworkers or more are recently divorced, they are likely to increase your divorce rate by 43%.
- Having a majority of single coworkers of the same sex increases the divorce rate by 60% more than working with married coworkers.
How close friends or family impact divorce rates
- The divorce of an immediate family member or close friend increases the likelihood of divorce by 75% compared to a 33% chance if a friend of a friend is divorced.
- Having a divorced sibling increases the chance of divorce by 21% compared to people with married siblings.
How parents’ relationships affect divorce rates
- Coming from an intact family reduces the likelihood of divorce by 30%.
- If a woman’s parents are divorced, her chance of divorce increases by 69%, while if both partners’ parents are divorced, their divorce risk increase by 189% compared to if their parents are still together.
Divorce effects on children
- Nearly 50% of children witness their parent’s divorce.
- Of this 50%, fewer than half will witness their parents go through a second divorce.
- One in ten children of divorced parents will witness their parents’ third divorce or more.
- Children take two years to adjust to their parent’s divorce.
- Children of divorced parents are 1.5 to 2 times more likely to experience poverty and engage in risky sexual behaviors.
- Children of divorced parents have a 16% increase in behavioral problems if the parents divorce when they are between 7 to 14 years old.
- Children of divorce have an 8% lower chance of completing high school, a 12% lower chance of attending college, and an 11% lower chance of completing college.
How divorce affects couples with kids
- Married couples with children have a 40% less chance of divorce than the 60% of those who don’t.
- One child after marriage reduces the chance of divorce by 24%-66%.
- Marriage between a wife that wants kids and a husband that doesn’t have a 50% chance of divorce.
- Couples with two sons have a 36.9% likelihood of divorce compared to those with two daughters, who face a 43.1%
The financial impact of divorce
- The average cost of divorce is $15,000 per person.
- Women are almost twice as likely as men to have their household income drop after divorce.
- Women older than 50 have a 43% drop in their living standards compared to men’s 21% drop.
- The main custodian of children experiences a 52% drop in his or her household income.
Impact of divorce on child custody and child support
- 1 in every 4 US children is being raised without a father at home.
- 80% of single parents households are led by single mothers.
- 52.7% of custodial mothers are awarded child support compared to 39.6% of custodial fathers.
- More than 70% of single mothers don’t receive child support.
- 76% of fathers with at least one child contribute child support, 15% of the fathers contribute child support “once in a while,” while 9% don’t contribute at all.
- Nearly 50% of people who contribute towards child support payments are younger than 40.
This guide on divorce statistics brings you detailed, accurate, and up-to-date information.
The truth about divorce is that it has been declining in the U.S. in recent decades. This trend can be broken down into two categories: a reduction in the divorce rate among younger age groups; younger adults delaying marriage to focus on completing education, building their careers, and seeking financial independence.