32 Shocking Divorce Statistics
Updated 2020 – Divorce rates for most age groups have been dropping since the 1980’s. We took a closer look at specific divorce statistics for age and region, as well divorce prediction factors, the role of social media, and even celebrity divorce rates, to provide an interesting picture of divorce stats in the U.S.
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Divorce Statistics in the U.S.
Most people have heard the statistic that “50 percent of marriages end in divorce.” That stat originated in the 1980’s and researchers believe the rate of divorce has since steadily dropped. Today, it is thought approximately 42-45 percent[i] of marriages in the United States end in divorce (this does not include legal separations).
When you break that down by number of marriages:
- 42-45% percent of first marriages end in divorce.
- 60% of second marriages end in divorce.
- 73% of third marriages end in divorce.
Another way to look at divorce statistics: In the United States, currently 22% of women and 21% of men have ever been divorced in their lives (divorced once or more) and 11% of women and 9% of men are currently divorced (not remarried).[ii]
This graph looks at the age groups of those getting divorced:
Under 20 years old
20 to 24 years old
25 to 29 years old
30 to 34 years old
35 to 39 years old
Source: CDC, 2011
Interesting Divorce Facts
- In the United States, there is one divorce approximately every 36 seconds. That's nearly 2,400 divorces per day, 16,800 divorces per week and 876,000 divorces a year.[iii]
- The average length of a first marriage that ends in divorce is 8 years.[iv]
- The probability of a first marriage ending in separation or divorce in the first 5 years is 20% and in 10 years is 33%.[v]
- The average age for couples going through divorce is 30 years old.
- On average, a person spends about two years thinking about divorce before taking action.
- About 3 out of every 4 divorced people will remarry.[vi]
- People wait an average of 3 years after a divorce to remarry (if they remarry at all).
- Six percent of divorced couples end up remarrying each other.[vii]
- The U.S. government stopped collecting detailed marriage and divorce statistics in 1996, so other data sources, such as the U.S. Census and independent researchers, are used to estimate divorce rates and other statistics.
Divorce Statistics by State and Region
Which states have the highest and lowest divorce rates?[viii]
The 5 states with the lowest divorce rates (as of 2015) are:
- Iowa (1.2 out of every 1,000 IA residents divorced)
- Illinois (2.2 out of every 1,000 IL residents divorced)
- Massachusetts (2.6 out of every 1,000 MA residents divorced)
- Texas (2.6 out of every 1,000 TX residents divorced)
- Maryland (2.6 out of every 1,000 MD residents divorced)
The 5 states with the highest divorce rates are:
- Arkansas (4.8 out of every 1,000 AR residents divorced)
- Nevada (4.6 out of every 1,000 NV residents divorced)
- Oklahoma (4.4 out of every 1,000 OK residents divorced)
- Wyoming (4.1 out of every 1,000 WY residents divorced)
- Alaska (4.1 out of every 1,000 AK residents divorced)
Which regions have the highest/lowest divorce rates?[ix]
Nationally, 9.2 out of every 1,000 U.S. residents divorce every year. Regionally, the divorce rate is highest in the South and lowest in the Northeast:
- In the Northeast, 7.2 men/7.5 women out of every 1,000 divorce every year
- In the Midwest, 9.1 men/9.2 women out of every 1,000 divorce every year
- In the West, 9.2 men/9.8 women out of every 1,000 divorce every year
- In the South, 10.2 men/11.1 women out of every 1,000 divorce every year
Overall, people living in northeastern states have lower marriage and divorce rates. While those in southern states are more likely to get married, they also have higher divorce rates.[x]
Voter data shows that "red" states (states that tend to vote for the Republican Party), have higher divorce rates than "blue" states (states that tend to vote for the Democratic Party).
Statistics on the Likelihood of Divorce
What increases your risk of divorce?
- People are more likely to divorce the younger they were when they got married or moved in with their future spouse.[xi]
- The more of your co-workers who are the opposite sex, the higher your risk of divorce.[xii]
- Having friends, family members, or co-workers who are recently divorced.[xiii]
- Living in an area with a high concentration of conservative or evangelical Protestants.[xiv]
- Higher spending on both the engagement ring and the wedding has been linked to shorter marriage durations.[xv]
- Not marrying someone close to your own age increases your risk of divorce.
What decreases the likelihood of divorce?
- People who wait to marry or cohabitate until they are over the age of 23 are less likely to get divorced.[xvi]
- If you've attended college, your risk of divorce decreases by 13 percent.
- If you have a baby after getting married (at least 7 months after), your risk of divorce decreases by 24%.[xvii]
- You’re less likely to divorce if your annual income is over $25,000.[xviii]
- If your parents are happily married, your risk of divorce decreases by 14 percent.[xix]
Statistics on Divorce and Children
- 16 percent of children are living in a “blended family” – a household with a stepparent, stepsibling, or half sibling.[xx]
- The negative effects caused by divorce on children (anger, anxiety, shock) are typically resolved by the end of the second year after divorce, with a minority of children who take longer to adjust.[xxi]
- High-conflict parents during divorce results in children experiencing more difficulty adjusting to life post-divorce.[xxii]
- Mothers are the primary residential parent after a divorce in 5 out of 6 cases.[xxiii]
Stats on Social Media and Divorce [xxiv]
- One in three divorces start as online affairs.
- 25% of couples fight about Facebook at least once a week.
- One in seven married people have contemplated divorce because of their partner’s social media activity.
- One in five feel uneasy about their relationship after discovering something on their partner’s Facebook account.
- Facebook is the #1 source for online divorce evidence. 81% of AAML divorce attorneys have used or encountered evidence obtained from social media.
- 14% of adults say they look through their partner’s social media accounts for evidence of infidelity.
Stats on “Gray Divorce” [xxv]
- Among those age 54-64, the divorce rate has quadrupled over the past 30 years.[xxvi] This phenomenon is often called “Gray Divorce.”
- One in four divorces in 2010 involved couples age 50 and older. In 1990, it was one in 10.
- 69% of older Americans in 2014 said they think divorce is morally acceptable, compared to 45% in 2001.
- Since 2008, web traffic from those over age 55 has increased 39% on Match.com.
- Two out of three “gray divorces” are initiated by women.
Celebrity Divorce Facts
Mel and Robyn Gibson's divorce in 2009 is considered to be the largest celebrity divorce settlement, as Mel paid his ex $425 million.
The celebrity who has been married and divorced the most is actress Zsa Zsa Gabor, who has been married nine times.
Britney Spears holds the record for shortest celebrity marriage; her union with friend Jason Alexander lasted only 56 hours before it was annulled. Other short divorces include:
- Eddie Murphy and Tracey Edmonds, 2 weeks
- Kim Kardashian and Kris Humphries, 72 days
- Michael Jackson & Lisa Marie Presley, 9 months
The “Real Housewives” franchise has an overall divorce rate of 35%.[xxvii] As of 2018, the newest series, Real Housewives of Dallas, has no divorces, while Real Housewives of D.C., cancelled after only one season, has a 100% divorce rate. Here’s how they all rank:
- Real Housewives of Dallas – 0% divorce rate
- Real Housewives of New Jersey – 11.1% divorce rate
- Real Housewives of Orange County – 23.5% divorce rate
- Real Housewives of Beverly Hills – 30.7% divorce rate
- Real Housewives of Miami – 42.9% divorce rate
- Real Housewives of New York – 50% divorce rate
- Real Housewives of Potomac – 50% divorce rate
- Real Housewives of Atlanta – 60% divorce rate
- Real Housewives of D.C. – 100% divorce rate
Contact McKinley Irvin to Learn More About Divorce
Divorce statistics can highlight facets of divorce that follow unexpected trends. For a better understanding of the divorce process, visit McKinley Irvin's divorce blog.
Sources: Time.com, ifstudies.org, thepublicdiscource.com, census.gov, cdc.gov, brandongaille.com, chicagotribune.com, National Vital Statistics System, theatlantic.com, Essentials of Sociology/James Henslin, pewresearch.org, contemporaryfamilies.org, vcu.edu, pewsocialtrends.org, scientificamerican.com, newsweek.com, Family Law Week (UK), Mashable, Slater and Gordon, GlobalWebIndex, The Fortino Group, American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers, Associated Press, Journal of Marital and Family Therapy, DOL.gov, AARP, Psychology Today, Gallup, Bowling Green State University, Experian Hitwise, “Breaking Up Is Hard to Count: The Rise of Divorce in the United States, 1980–2010” by Sheela Kennedy & Steven Ruggles, eonline.com
[i] Source: https://ifstudies.org/blog/what-is-the-divorce-rate-anyway-around-42-percent-one-scholar-believes/
[ii] Source: http://www.thepublicdiscourse.com/2015/12/15983/
[iii] Using data collected 2000-2014. Source: http://1.usa.gov/1dMPvI2
[iv] Source: https://www.census.gov/prod/2011pubs/p70-125.pdf
[v] 2002, Source: https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/pressroom/02news/div_mar_cohab.htm
[vi] Source: http://brandongaille.com/20-noteworthy-statistics-of-blended-families/
[vii] Source: http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2012-10-23/features/sc-fam-1023-divorce-reunite-20121023_1_divorce-process-couples-relationship
[viii] Source: CDC/NCHS, National Vital Statistics System. No data for California, Georgia, Hawaii, Indiana, and Minnesota was available.
[ix] Source: US Census, 2009. https://www.census.gov/prod/2011pubs/acs-13.pdf
[x] Source: https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/nvss/marriage_divorce_tables.htm
[xi] Source: https://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2014/03/the-science-of-cohabitation-a-step-toward-marriage-not-a-rebellion/284512/
[xii] Source: https://content.stg-openclass.com/eps/sanvan/api/item/b24b022b-f37a-4b3e-80f7-1cbe688c8b4b/1/file/henslin_writing_space_prod_test03302015/OPS/text/chapter-12/ch12_sec_06.xhtml
[xiii] Source: http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2013/10/21/is-divorce-contagious/
[xiv] Source: https://contemporaryfamilies.org/impact-of-conservative-protestantism-on-regional-divorce-rates/
[xv] Source: https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=2501480
[xvi] Source: https://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2014/03/the-science-of-cohabitation-a-step-toward-marriage-not-a-rebellion/284512/
[xvii] Source: https://content.stg-openclass.com/eps/sanvan/api/item/b24b022b-f37a-4b3e-80f7-1cbe688c8b4b/1/file/henslin_writing_space_prod_test03302015/OPS/text/chapter-12/ch12_sec_06.xhtml
[xviii] Source: https://content.stg-openclass.com/eps/sanvan/api/item/b24b022b-f37a-4b3e-80f7-1cbe688c8b4b/1/file/henslin_writing_space_prod_test03302015/OPS/text/chapter-12/ch12_sec_06.xhtml
[xix] Source: https://content.stg-openclass.com/eps/sanvan/api/item/b24b022b-f37a-4b3e-80f7-1cbe688c8b4b/1/file/henslin_writing_space_prod_test03302015/OPS/text/chapter-12/ch12_sec_06.xhtml
[xx] Source: http://www.pewsocialtrends.org/2015/12/17/1-the-american-family-today/
[xxi] Source: https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/is-divorce-bad-for-children/
[xxii] Source: http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/is-divorce-bad-for-children/
[xxiii] Source: http://www.newsweek.com/divorce-new-rules-child-custody-83545
[xxiv] Sources: Family Law Week (UK), Mashable, Slater and Gordon, GlobalWebIndex, The Fortino Group, American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers, Associated Press, Journal of Marital and Family Therapy
[xxv] Sources: CDC.gov, DOL.gov, AARP, Psychology Today, Gallup, Bowling Green State University, Experian Hitwise
[xxvi] Source: http://www.hist.umn.edu/~ruggles/Articles/breaking_up.pdf
[xxvii] Source: https://www.eonline.com/news/567233/we-calculated-the-divorce-rate-for-every-real-housewives-show-and-the-results-will-blow-your-mind