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Why Are Divorce Rates High in the US?


Although divorce rates have fallen in the U.S. over the last few decades, divorce is still common. The divorce rate as of 2017 was 2.9 per 1,000 people. With 787,251 divorces across 45 reporting states and 2,236,496 marriages, the national divorce rate is about 35%. This is 15% less than the common misconception that half of all marriages end in divorce. Still, with so many couples ending their marriages each year, it is natural to be curious as to the reasons why. Knowing why divorce is still so common in the U.S. could help you and your partner avoid a fallout.

Divorce Is More Acceptable

In decades past, divorce was not a socially acceptable option. Once a couple married, society expected them to stay together until the end, even with trouble in the marriage such as adultery or domestic violence. Today, however, divorce has lost much of its negative social stigma. While divorce is still a difficult process for a couple to endure, it may no longer bring with it social ostracization or shame. Divorce is much more socially acceptable for couples who cannot make their marriages work.

Women Have More Options

In the past, it was more difficult for a woman to initiate a divorce due to her dependency on her husband. Divorce would often mean no money, no way to get a job and no right to raise children. Today, however, women can leave unsatisfying or abusive marriages without fear of ending up on the street. Women have rights and protections safeguarding them, including many state and federal programs set up to help women after divorces. Alimony and child support laws have also helped women file for divorce and retain their independence.

It Is No Longer Necessary to Prove Fault

Many states used to enforce laws that required claimants to prove their spouses’ fault for the split. If the claimant could not prove that his or her spouse caused the divorce through some act of wrongdoing, such as committing adultery or a crime, that person could not get a divorce. Today, however, all states allow no-fault divorces. Seventeen states will only permit claimants to file for no-fault divorces, while all others still allow claimants to pursue fault-based divorces if desired. No-fault divorce laws make it easier to get divorced.

Self-Help and the Internet Make Divorce Easier

Thanks to the internet, many people can figure out how to file a petition for divorce online, without needing to hire a lawyer or go to court. Most states, including Colorado, have self-help divorce webpages with step-by-step instructions for how to initiate divorce. While hiring a lawyer could help in complicated divorce cases, many couples successfully divorce on their own using guidance from trusted online sources such as the Colorado Judicial Branch website. It is more common for couples who can compromise and work together on their divorce to use self-help options rather than hire attorneys.

Unrealistic Marital Expectations

Not only is it easier than ever to get a divorce – it is also harder to keep some modern marriages together due to unrealistic expectations of what a marriage should look like. Many people place high expectations a spouse or marriage can never live up to. When reality falls short of expectations, this can lead to dissatisfaction within the marriage and divorce. Busy lives, financial problems, stress and fights can lead to divorce if the couple was ill-prepared to deal with the realities of life together. If a couple has a realistic view of their relationship and marriage from the beginning, however, divorce is less likely.

Financial Insecurity

Money is one of the most common reasons for divorce in the U.S. Financial insecurity, lack of household stability, resentment and working too much can all contribute to divorce. Statistics show that money is one of the most frequent reasons behind marital spats and major arguments. Fights over money may have increased in recent decades due to more pressure on a family to earn, gender earning inequality and the economic recession. Research suggests that well-educated couples with financial security are more likely to stay married in the U.S.


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