We have all heard the rather depressing claim that half of all marriages end in divorce. Taking a superficial look at the numbers seems to lend credence to this well-known “fact.” The reality, however, is much more complicated, and the rate of divorce varies widely in different geographic regions and demographic groups. An annual report on the topic indicates that, overall, the rate of divorce is at its lowest point in 35 years.
Marriage Up, Divorce Down
The National Center for Family & Marriage Research at Bowling Green State University compiles data each year to examine the prior year’s trends for marriage and divorce. This year’s report shows a rise in the marriage rate to its highest point in several years and the third straight year of a declining divorce rate. The national rate of divorce is now lower than it has been at any time in the last 35 years.
One of the most important concepts to remember when looking at marriage and divorce rates is that they are calculated separately from one another. For example, the center’s report for 2015 used U.S. Census data to determine that for every 1,000 unmarried women aged 15 and older in the U.S., there were 32.3 marriages and for every 1,000 married women aged 15 and older there were 16.9 divorces. These rates simply use the population of a certain demographic as a standard; they are not implying that the same people who got married were the same people who got divorced. In fact, it is highly unlikely that a significant percentage of Americans got both married and divorced in the same year.
Last year’s divorce rate represents the third consecutive year of decline and a substantial drop from 23 per 1,000 married women in 1980. This is particularly noteworthy in light of the fact that 1980 marked the high point of the divorce rate in the wake of no-fault divorce being legalized in many states around the country. (Illinois, by comparison, was relatively slow to allow no-fault divorce, finally permitting it in 1984.)
The marriage rate in 2015 also showed signs of continuing to inch upward. Evolving attitudes toward marriage by younger people and increased cohabitation among divorced or unmarried Baby Boomers have pushed the marriage rate down in recent years, but the trend has gradually reversed. While Americans may never again see a marriage rate of 76.5—like that in 1970—last year’s numbers are the highest since 2009.
Making Your Own Way
As with any national trend, marriage and divorce rates are used for big-picture analysis and may have no impact whatsoever on your unique circumstance. If you are considering marriage and would like legal guidance, or you have decided to divorce and need representation, contact an experienced family law attorney in St. Charles. Our team is equipped to help you every step of the way. Call 630-377-7770 for a free consultation at Bochte, Kuzniar & Navigato, P.C. today.