Why Do Couples Separate? Key Marriage & Divorce Statistics

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    When a marriage is on the rocks, many couples have to make some tough decisions. Nearly half of all marriages in the U.S. end in divorce. However, divorce rates in the United States have declined over the years.

    Studies show that this is due to a variety of factors. Here are some statistics about why couples divorce, how common it is and the impact on families.

    Key Takeaways

    • There have been around 8 million divorces over the past decade in the U.S.
    • 2020 saw a total of 630,505 divorces in the U.S.
    • In 2021, around 7% of divorcing Americans separate before completing even a full month of marriage.
    • The current divorce rate in the U.S. is 2.3 per 1,000 population.
    • The anticipated cost of divorce ranges from $10,000 to $20,000, with an average total of $15,000.
    • Divorce rates are 6% higher in relationships where the wife suffers from an illness or chronic health problem.
    • Domestic violence is behind 23.5% of divorces.
    • After starting a family, 67% of couples report a decrease in marital satisfaction.
    • The marriages of 80% of women who have four-year college degrees last 20 years or more.

    The Impact of COVID-19 on Divorce

    The pandemic boosted the stress and anxiety levels of many families. Studies have shown that prolonged lockdowns and self-isolating worsened the challenges that couples currently face worldwide.

    Since the COVID-19 outbreak, more couples with children have separated

    Due to extended pandemic challenges, divorce rates for couples with children were up 5% in 2021 compared to 2020 totals, despite evidence that has shown thatt families with children under 18 tend to divorce less frequently.

    7% of newlyweds filed for divorce within the first month of marriage

    Due to stress and anxiety intensified by the pandemic, households faced what's known as the "Phases of Disaster." The cycle goes through four steps: mitigation, disaster preparedness, disaster response and disaster recovery. This seems to have hit newlyweds particularly hard, as 7% of couples filed for divorce within the first month of marriage.

    Studies show fewer couples are marrying

    Marriages were down anywhere from 6-20% in the U.S. due to pandemic lockdown measures, which have had an impact on marriage rates worldwide. Only 5.1 persons per 1,000 people got married in 2020.

    Although the U.S. divorce rate is declining, more than 600,000 Americans get divorced each year

    The current divorce rate in the U.S. is 2.3 per 1,000 residents, according to divorce rates from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, or CDC. The most recent available data is from 2020, with 44 states reporting.

    The Cost of Filing for Divorce

    Divorce is usually emotionally and financially draining. Unfortunately, the aftermath is generally the most difficult part of the process. The cost of filing and division of assets could leave people grappling with debt.

    This is an $11 billion-a-year industry with an average cost of around $15,000

    The overall cost to divorce varies. However, the price usually ranges from $10,000 to $20,000, with an average of $15,000, depending on the complexity of the case.

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    The cost of divorce without lawyers

    If a couple can navigate the divorce process without hiring an attorney, the cost is much lower. Those who handled a divorce without hiring a lawyer spent an average of $925, not including the cost of mediation.

    The Most Popular Reasons for Divorce

    Why do couples get divorced? It's complicated, and there are several reasons. The most common causes include verbal and emotional abuse or domestic violence, communication problems, lack of respect and many others.

    Cheating is one big reason

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    Studies show that extramarital affairs are responsible for the failure of anywhere from 20% to 40% of marriages.

    Illnesses can also destroy marriages

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    A study discovered that divorce rates were 6% higher in relationships in which the wife had a chronic illness. This includes cancer, heart disease, lung disease and other long-term medical issues. When husbands were in poor health, divorce rates did not rise.

    23.5% of divorces are caused by domestic violence

    abuse

    Almost a quarter of survey respondents reported physical and emotional abuse as the catalyst for divorce. Many respondents stated that the abuse progressed over time, with intense cycles followed by remorse.

    Money is a big factor

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    According to Forbes, opposing "money styles" might harm a relationship. Conflicts can occur when deciding where your paychecks go if one person is a spender and the other is a saver. When a partner feels the other spends their money foolishly, it increases the probability of divorce by 45%. Complicated financial situations like the significant student loan debt of one partner can also lead to conflict.

    Some aren’t committed to commitment

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    Even though some may argue that marriage is the ultimate commitment, 75% of couples indicated that a lack of commitment to their relationships contributed to the breakdown of their marriage.

    After having a child, 67% of couples report a decrease in marital satisfaction

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    Raising children can often lead to differences and put stress on a marriage. The infant and toddler years can be particularly rough: according to a study from the Journal of Family Psychology, 67% of couples saw a decrease in marital satisfaction within the first three years after the birth of a child.

    Cohabitation before marriage doesn’t reduce the odds of divorce

    Living together

    57% of couples who didn't cohabitate before their marriage could expect to be married after 20 years, while 46% of couples who opted to live together before getting married will still be together after 20 years.

    Education and divorce are linked

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    Women with a four-year college degree have an almost 80% chance of remaining married for more than 20 years, compared to 40% of women with a high school diploma for women with a high school diploma or less.

    Statistics About Divorce and Children

    There is no doubt that divorce is difficult for everyone involved, but children, in particular, often struggle the most. While divorce may make sense to couples, it can confuse the children. Most of the time, the children's needs are not met, and kids can't cope with the situation in a healthy manner.

    Children experiencing a family break-up in early adolescence are more likely to have problems

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    Children whose parents divorced while the kids were still in late childhood and early adolescence -- between the ages of 7 and 14 -- had a 16% increase in emotional problems and an 8% increase in short-term behavioral disorders.

    Children of divorced parents are more likely to live in poverty

    Divorce causes unstable family circumstances for a rising number of children worldwide. Risk is typically 1.5-2 times higher. Children of divorced or separated parents are more likely to engage in risky activities, live in poverty, and deal with other instances of family instability.

    Divorce can lead to poor academic performance in children

    According to a study, children of divorced parents were 8% less likely to complete high school, 12% less likely to attend college and 11% less likely to graduate from college.

    The Bottom Line

    Statistics show that divorces are common for unhappy couples. Studies indicate that some of the reasons couples decide to split can be emotional, physical or financial, plus an array of other reasons.

    Divorce doesn't only affect the couple involved. It also, unfortunately, affects a high number of children. As a result, children of divorced parents are more likely to experience educational, financial and behavorial complications than children from two-parent households.

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