People may talk about a high divorce rate or lament the number of families that are now single-parent homes due to divorce, but the reality is that divorce rates have been declining since their peak in the early 1980s.  For the past three decades, the national divorce rate has been steadily falling to its present level of 3.6 divorces per 1,000 households.  The caveat to the declining rate of divorce is a generational anomaly. The baby boomer generation, which is demographically large enough to skew statistics, has an increasing divorce rate. 

In fact, boomers were responsible for the first spike in divorce rates in the 1970s and early 1980s when the feminist movement, birth control and the adoption of no-fault divorce laws by most states all combined to create a much easier path to divorce than existed before. Statistics show now that boomers are divorcing once again in mid- to later-life.

Caveat aside, the overall divorce rate has been declining for the past three decades.  Of marriages that began in the 1990s, 70 percent reached their 15th wedding anniversary.  People entering into marriages in the 2000s are divorcing at an even lower rate. That being the case, Collin County divorce attorneys decided to take a look at the reasons for these numbers.

The Divorce Divide

One of the reasons cited for the declining divorce rate is that the median marriage age has risen.  The median age for men getting married is now 27 and for women is 26, up approximately five years since 1970.  Another reason cited for the lower divorce rate is that fewer people are getting married. The marriage rate in the U.S. has dropped by approximately 30 percent since 1970. This decline in the marriage rate translates to 51 percent of Americans being married in 2011 according to the Pew Research Center, compared with 72 percent of Americans being married in 1960.  This trend is expected to continue.

There is a twist to the numbers, however.  For those without a college degree, the divorce rate is still high — closer to the peak years of the 1970s and 1980s.  The same is true for the less-affluent, who also tend to be those without a college degree.  For this socioeconomic group, early marriage, divorce and single-parent households are still an overwhelming reality.  The divorce divide is clear: the divorce rate is declining for the college-educated, affluent young people getting married, but is remaining the same for the less-educated and less affluent young people getting married.  According to one study, of those in the former group married in the 2000s, only 11 percent were divorced by their seventh wedding anniversary.  For those in the latter group married in the 2000s, however, 17 percent were divorced by their seventh wedding anniversary.

What is the Next Big Thing?

One can speculate about what will impact the divorce rate in the future, and one factor receiving a lot of attention is online dating.  Because the long-term ramifications of online dating and the relationships that arise from it are still unknown, the impact of this still relatively new form of socializing on future divorce rates remains to be seen.

If you would like more information about the divorce rate, or information on pre-nuptial, post-nuptial agreements or obtaining a divorce, contact the divorce attorneys at Nordhaus Walpole, PLLC today.