There is no denying that divorce has a profound impact on all the parties involved. Obviously, it affects the couple who has decided to part ways, but it also affects their family and friends.
Children are the most likely to go through a difficult time during a divorce, and their physical, psychological, and intellectual well-being can all be affected by the new family dynamic.
This article presents some eye-opening children of divorce statistics. But before digging deeper into each stat, let’s have a quick look at the most striking ones.
Fascinating Family Separation Statistics (Editor’s Pick)
- 37.6% of all marriages in the US end in divorce.
- Roughly one in two children will see their parents’ marriage breakup.
- 21% of children in America are being raised without their fathers.
- Children are more likely to experience behavior issues if their married parents decide to divorce when the child is between seven and 14.
- Children with divorced parents are twice as likely to drop out of high school.
Divorce Rate Statistics
When a couple decides to divorce, they often face a number of daunting decisions, including how to care for any children they may have, as well as how to divide their assets and property. What’s more, in the majority of cases, they need to deal with the emotional fallout of the breakup.
Below is some data presenting divorced families in statistics that help provide a clearer picture.
1. 37.6% of all marriages in the US end in divorce.
(Institute for Family Studies)
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the current divorce rate in the US is 2.3 per 1,000 people. Moreover, the latest divorce statistics indicate that one in every three marriages ends in divorce.
Research published by the United Nations shows a high divorce rate in the US, ranking tenth worldwide, below the likes of the Maldives, Republic of Kazakhstan, Russia, Belgium, and China.
While the divorce rate in the United States is dropping, the number of people getting married is also on the decline. As America’s divorce rate has been falling in recent years, the percentage of divorced parents has reached an all-time low. In 2019, only 33 adults were married for every 1,000 unmarried adults. This number dropped from 2010, when 35 adults per 1,000 people were married. Even though it may not seem like much, keep in mind that that number was 86 back in 1970.
Only 14.9 marriages out of 1,000 in 2020 ended in divorce, according to the Census Bureau's American Community Survey statistics. At its lowest level in 50 years, the rate is even marginally lower than in 1970, when 15 out of every 1,000 marriages ended in divorce.
2. 85% of people get divorced because of a lack of commitment.
(Bureau for Social Research, OSU)
Not all divorces are created equal, and every couple has its own story. Still, when it comes to marriages falling apart, there are some common denominators that lead to it.
In a statewide survey about marriage and divorce conducted by the Oklahoma State University Bureau for Social Research, a group of people was given a list of possible reasons for getting a divorce. The survey showed that 85% of respondents cited a lack of commitment as the main reason for making this decision.
Within this group, 61% of divorcees said that there was too much fighting or conflict, and 58% said there was infidelity or affairs. Additionally, getting married too young, having unrealistic expectations of marriage, or living in an unequal partnership ranked high among the reasons for divorce.
Irrespective of your reasons for getting divorced, there is no denying that divorce can have a lasting impact on children. This is something to bear in mind, as it is imperative to keep an eye on your child during this difficult time.
3. According to statistics on children of divorce, roughly half of all children will see their parents’ marriage break up.
Children, like parents, are more likely to benefit from a divorce that will be transformed into two stable homes than they would be in the same household with dissatisfied parents.
On occasions when divorce is imminent, it is the best option for families with kids who have experienced domestic violence, abuse, or other negative behavioral patterns. Even when there are no instances of destructive conduct within the family, when going through a divorce, it’s paramount to pay attention to children’s needs and consult mediators and psychologists for help during that difficult time.
About 50% of all American children will witness the end of their parents’ marriage. Of these children, slightly fewer than half will then go on to see their parents’ second marriage break up, and one in every 10 children who have divorced parents will then see the break up of three or more parental marriages.
4. 21% of children are being raised without their fathers in America.
Children of divorce statistics show that it is usually the father who is absent from a child’s life, leading to the number of children living only with custodial mothers doubling in the past 50 years. These statistics on broken homes show that around 21% of American kids are growing up without a father.
The number of children living solely with their father has increased more than fourfold. This is due to a higher percentage of fathers striving to take on parenting roles that had previously been reserved for women. From 0.8 million children in 1968, which represented a mere 1%, the number grew to 3.3 million, or 4.5%.
Divorced mothers of small children and those with adult children are also significantly more likely than fathers to balance work and family obligations well, so living with just the mother is still significantly more common than living only with the father.
Psychological and Physical Effects of Divorce on a Child
When it comes to the effects of divorce on children, statistics show that kids of parents who have split are more likely to experience health problems, including insomnia, stomachaches, and headaches. They are also more likely to encounter psychological issues, engaging in risky behaviors, such as smoking, drinking, and drug abuse, to alleviate the anxiety they might be experiencing.
Let’s take a closer look at the stats:
5. Children are more likely to experience behavioral issues if parents divorce when the child is between the ages of seven and 14.
Parents who continuously argue, even after the divorce proceedings, tend to show less affection, less attentiveness, and a greater penchant for disciplining their children. This kind of approach leaves kids feeling emotionally insecure.
As a result, kids are more likely to experience their social surroundings as chaotic, which further separates them from their peers who are growing up in stable homes. As a matter of fact, the majority of children who engage in fighting and theft come from broken homes.
According to research carried out at the University College London, children are more likely to experience behavioral and emotional problems if their parents divorce when the child is between the ages of seven and 14. As children of divorce statistics reveal, there is a 16% increase in behavioral and emotional problems in this age bracket when compared to other ages.
6. Children with divorced parents are twice as likely to attempt suicide.
The fact that suicidal thoughts are considerably more widespread among minors from broken homes is one of the most worrying effects of divorce on children. Now, this does not mean that you should stay with someone you no longer love because of an increased risk of suicide for your children. What it does mean, though, is that you need to account for the risk and take additional notice of your child’s behavior if you observe any changes, however slight they may be.
It can be beneficial for children of divorce to see a therapist during this exasperating period to help them understand the situation and talk to someone who is not directly involved in the marriage breakdown.
7. Children with divorced parents are four times as likely to have trouble fitting in.
(City University of New York)
Among children of divorce statistics is one indicating that children from broken homes tend to have more difficulty interacting with their peers. It shows that growing up with divorced parents means that they are four times more likely to experience problems with their friends and peers than children from intact families.
When children are frustrated, confused, or unhappy with the situation at home, they can act out and take it out on their friends. They may even grow resentful towards children whose parents have remained married.
8. Teenagers whose parents divorce are more likely to experience mental health issues.
There is no doubt that divorce affects children’s health. Children of divorce are more likely to have mental health issues, physical health problems, and behavioral problems. There are a number of divorced parent statistics that uphold this observation. In fact, teenagers with divorced parents are a lot more likely to experience mental health problems that require medication, counseling, or both.
According to research published in the Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, teenagers with divorced parents are about three times as likely to require counseling over the course of a year.
Overall, kids that come from broken homes tend to experience more speech issues, as well as headaches, asthma, illnesses, and injuries.
9. Therapists indicate that some children of divorced parents are likely to develop positive personality traits.
Not all is bleak, though. Some broken family statistics share the finding that children who grew up in single parent households due to a divorce have developed substantial resilience due to situations where they needed to cope with challenging emotional experiences. Moreover, owing to these activities, they have increased their understanding of complex interpersonal interactions and have become more empathetic as a result.
Long-Term Effects of a Divorce on Children
Studies have shown that children of divorced parents are more likely to experience behavioral problems, academic difficulties, and mental health issues. They are also at greater risk of developing unhealthy relationships themselves. While no one deserves to live in an unhappy home, and there are undoubtedly positive effects of divorce on children, statistics don’t leave much room for optimism.
Here’s what the figures say:
10. 70% of prison inmates incarcerated for long-term sentences grew up in broken homes, family separation statistics reveal.
(US Department of Justice)
More than two thirds of prison inmates who are incarcerated on a long-term basis due to more serious crimes are children born and raised in broken homes. Research suggests that children of divorced parents are more likely to become juvenile offenders.
One reason for this is that divorce often disrupts the family structure and creates an environment of chaos and conflict. In turn, feelings of insecurity and isolation can surface, potentially leading to delinquent behavior. Additionally, children of divorce often have difficulty developing a sense of self-worth and may seek peer approval through criminal activity.
While not all children of divorce will become juvenile offenders, it is important to be aware of the risks so that appropriate interventions can be put in place. With the right support, children of divorce can overcome the challenges they face and lead healthy, productive lives.
11. Children are at a greater risk of living in poverty if their parents get a divorce.
This is one of those children of divorced parents statistics that may not come as a surprise when you consider that getting a divorce can often mean that households have to make ends meet on a single income. Even with alimony and child support, the economic security of single-parent families rarely equals that of two-parent families.
In line with this, children of divorced parents are five times more likely to end up living in poverty than children who still live with both of their parents.
12. Children with divorced parents are twice as likely to drop out of high school.
(National Library of Medicine)
There are also some interesting children of divorce statistics relating to the effects of divorce on teenagers’ academic achievements. Figures indicate that kids with divorced parents are twice as likely to end up dropping out of high school compared to their peers who live with both biological parents. Moreover, the GPA of high school students from intact, nuclear families is 11% higher than that of kids from divorced families.
So, if you’re going through a divorce, you likely need to pay extra attention to your child’s performance in school. Talking to their teacher to explain the situation at home and presenting a unified front with your ex-partner when it comes to education are some of the steps you can take.
13. There is a link between divorce and a child’s academic performance.
Among all child and divorce facts, you will see that there are a lot of statistics on broken families that relate to a child’s academic performance. Earlier, we mentioned that teenagers are more likely to drop out of high school when their parents get divorced. This is not simply an expression of teenagers’ rebellious spirit, as can often happen because teenagers drop out of school so they can get a job and help their families pay for rent and food.
Aside from this, children who were young when their parents separated are twice as likely to quit school later in life and have a fear of professional commitment, thus holding low-paying jobs. What’s more, children who have been through a number of different divorces with their parents usually have lower grades when compared with children who have not experienced divorce in their home life.
Some of the most astonishing children of divorce statistics really drive home the impact a divorce can have on a child.
You may be shocked to have learned about the many children who live in broken homes today, but statistics on divorce and its impact on children don’t lie. As a parent, you may be able to take some comfort in the knowledge that you are not alone.
While it can be difficult to focus on much else when going through a divorce, it is vital to ensure that the issues between you and your partner do not end up causing problems for your child. After all, it’s in everyone’s best interest to continue working as a unit on family issues.
There is also a lot of help available for you to get the support you require. Children are known to be resilient, and as long as there’s good will, it is possible to protect them from the hassle a divorce experience inevitably brings.