The divorce rate in America provides insight into today’s relationships. Knowing what percentage of marriages end in divorce and when divorce is most likely to occur tells us where we fit in that picture.
While the US divorce rate has remained relatively stable over recent years, it has actually declined in the long term. As the following stats show, however, the divorce rate in the United States in 2022 doesn’t necessarily provide the whole picture of marital success, separations, and relationship breakdowns.
Divorce Rates in America (Editor’s Pick)
- The current divorce rate in the US is 2.3 persons per 1,000 people.
- Overall, the rate of divorces in America is falling.
- Divorces amongst people aged 50+ years are rising.
- Fewer couples choose to marry than pre-1990.
- The US divorce rate is the third-highest in the world.
- There were around 630,000 divorces in the US in 2020.
- Most Americans who file for divorce do so between January and March.
Divorce Rates in America Statistics 2022
1. The crude divorce rate in America is 2.3 per 1,000.
According to the CDC, the current divorce rate is just 2.3 per 1,000. However, only 45 states and the District of Columbia submitted enough data to be considered in this nationwide study. As Indiana, California, Hawaii, New Mexico, and Minnesota are not counted, there may be some variation in this figure.
2. Recent divorce rates suggest a decrease in the number of people dissolving their marriages.
The divorce rate has increased since 1960. But since 1990, there has been a downward trend in divorce statistics. This suggests divorce rates over time are changing drastically, as are marriage and cohabitation trends. By assessing the divorce rate statistics by year, it’s easy to see that the rate of divorce in the US is on a general decline.
3. More people in the US were married in 2021 than in 1960.
Despite the overall long-term increase in divorce rates in America, more US residents were married in 2021 than in 1960. Still, this is most likely a side-effect of an increasing population on marriage and divorce statistics.
4. Around 630,000 divorces took place in the US in 2020.
In 2020, approximately 630,505 divorces were granted in America, meaning that around 1.27 million people divorced that year. The national divorce rates per year will likely continue to fall, as this trend has been going strong for several decades.
5. During the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic, the number of divorces fell by 12%.
The projected figure for 2020 was 714,997, and states like Maryland (43.3%) and Louisiana (56.5%) had the most significant declines in divorce filings.
6. Remarriage increases the risk of divorce.
According to the Census Bureau, you are more likely to get divorced if you’ve been married at least once before. In other words, people have to put extra effort into making a non-first marriage work.
7. There is a seasonal spike in divorces in the US.
More people file for a divorce between January and March than at any other time of year. Some researchers believe this is a side-effect of the perceived strain on familial relationships over the holidays.
8. On average, only 29 out of 1,000 divorced or widowed women decide to get married for the second time.
Around 58% of US-born adults decide to marry again after their first marriages end in divorce. The percentage of foreign-born US citizens going into a second marriage after their first divorce is slightly lower, at 51%.
9. Divorce rates vary dramatically from state to state.
The lowest divorce rate by state occurs in Massachusetts and Louisiana, with rates of just 1.0 and 1.4 per 1,000 people. Conversely, the states with the highest divorce rates are Wyoming and Alabama, with 3.8 and 3.7 divorcees per 1,000 people, respectively.
10. The average length of a marriage in the US is 19.9 years.
While the national average marriage length is just under 20 years, couples in Maine and West Virginia typically have the longest-lasting unions. The typical marriage in these lasts for 22.3 years.
11. The likelihood of divorce might be less than you think.
The most common question surrounding divorce in the United States is:
What percentage of marriages end in divorce?
Here’s the kicker:
Many people believe that this figure is around 50%. However, the actual percentage of marriages that end in divorce in the US varies between 40% and 50%. This means you are more likely to stay married than dissolve your marriage. Good news!
12. The divorce rate today is lower than a decade ago.
The divorce rate in America in 2019 and 2020 was significantly lower than in 2009 and 2010. Despite a slight increase in 2010-11, the overall divorce rate has fallen throughout the last decade.
13. The national divorce rate for adults aged 25-39 is 24 per 1,000 persons.
For adults aged between 40-49 years of age, it’s 21 per 1,000 persons. In contrast, the divorce rate amongst adults aged 50+ years is 10 in 1,000 persons. When comparing divorce rates by age group, it’s clear that the older population tends to stick around much longer before choosing to leave an unhappy marriage, although this age group’s divorce rates have been on the uptake for the 25 years between 1990 and 2015. On the other hand, the same rates among the younger population have been declining.
14. The rate of divorce after 10 years is 48% for those who marry before the age of 18.
However, the rate is just 25% for those who marry after the age of 25. For people who marry between the ages of 20-25, there is a 44%-60% chance of the union ending in divorce.
These statistics confirm that the couple's age at the time of marrying impacts subsequent divorce rates.
15. Baby boomer divorce rates have risen dramatically over the last 30 years.
So-called gray divorce rates, amongst adults aged 50+, the national divorce rate has roughly doubled since 1990. For those aged 65+, it has actually tripled, from 2 in 1,000 married persons to 6 in 1,000. This indicates people over 50 are more likely to get divorced now than ever before.
16. Successful marriage statistics are on the increase.
As divorce rates continue to reduce overall, successful marriage statistics increase accordingly. With a 40-50% chance of a marriage in the US ending in divorce, there is a 50%-60% chance that the marriage will not be dissolved. So, people who marry today stand a much better chance of having a successful marriage than ever before!
17. Ages 28-32 could be the best time to get married.
As we know by now, divorce rates vary by age. But there isn’t a linear trend that shows divorce rates increase or decrease as you get older. Still, people who marry in their late twenties or early thirties are statistically less likely to divorce.
18. People are 75% more likely to end their marriage if a friend is divorced.
According to a research team from Brown University, having divorced friends can significantly increase your chances of becoming divorced yourself. While you are 75% more likely to end your own marriage if you are friends with a divorcee, you are 33% more likely to get divorced if you have a friend of a friend who has formally ended a marriage.
19. Divorce rates are falling, but so are marriage rates.
Although divorce rates have fallen recently, marriage rates have also dropped. When comparing marriage vs. divorce statistics, it is vital to assess the rates in context.
In the 2000s, the national marriage rate in America was 8.2 people per 1,000. Currently, it is 5.1 per 1,000. With more couples living together without formalizing their union, the divorce rate cannot accurately represent the number of long-term relationship breakdowns.
20. Separation doesn’t count in divorce statistics.
Most people who separate end up divorcing, but that’s not always the case.
91% of separated white women will divorce within three years, but this figure drops to 77% for Hispanic women and 67% for Black women. As long-term separation is not counted in most divorce statistics, the rate of marriage breakdowns could be higher than divorce rates suggest.
21. A higher education level for women means lower divorce rates.
The average marriage failure rate varies depending on each spouse’s level of education. 78% of women with bachelor’s degrees who married for the first time in 2006-2010 can expect their marriage to last for at least 20 years. In contrast, 49% of women with some college education and 40% of those with a high school diploma or less can expect their marriage to last for the same period.
22. Education-related divorce rates are moderated by age.
Even though education-related divorce rate statistics imply that a higher level of education equates to a lower chance of divorce, this is moderated by the age of each spouse: The divorce rates for young couples are higher in part because people who get married before attaining higher education do so much earlier in their life than those who wait to finish college, and are therefore less likely to have the life experience necessary to make long-lasting matches.
23. The millennial divorce rate is lower than those of their predecessors.
People born between 1981 and 1996 are showing lower rates of divorce than older age groups. However, the millennial divorce rate may be impacted by the fact that this demographic typically chooses to marry at a later age, and many forego marriage in favor of cohabitation.
What’s more, millennials are less likely to have unrealistic expectations from marriage. As earlier generations typically married at a younger age and were less likely to cohabit before that, this contributes to their higher divorce rates.
24. Millennials are more cautious about marriage.
The generational gap in marriage and divorce rates may be partly due to the fact many millennials complete further education and begin their careers before tying the knot. While marriage and divorce rates in the US have fallen, the age at which millennials choose to marry is much higher compared to pre-1980 statistics.
25. Cohabiting can impact your risk of divorce.
Couples who do not cohabit before marriage are less likely to divorce within the first 20 years of their union. Men who live with their partner prior to marriage have a 49% chance of avoiding divorce for at least 20 years, while women who live with their partner before marriage have a 46% chance of remaining married for at least 20 years.
26. Divorce is less likely than cohabitee break-ups.
There is a 20% chance that the first marriage results in divorce within five years. In comparison, couples who cohabit for five years have a 49% chance of separating. Similarly, married couples have a 33% chance of divorce within 10 years, whilst cohabiting couples have a 62% chance of splitting up in this timeframe. These statistics indicate that married couples are likely to remain together longer than couples who choose to cohabit but do not marry.
27. Incompatibility is the leading cause of divorce in the US.
According to the Institute for Divorce Financial Analysts, the number one reason for divorce in America is “basic incompatibility.” 43% of research participants cited this reason as their primary decision to get a divorce. Infidelity and money issues were also highly relevant, with statistics showing that 28% and 22% of participants cited these reasons for obtaining a divorce.
These causes of divorce statistics highlight the most common reasons for couples to request a divorce, although parenting differences, addiction, and abuse are commonly cited, too.
28. 23.5% of marriages end in divorce due to domestic violence.
Divorced people cite a lack of commitment (75%) as the main reason their civil union ended in a divorce. Other influential factors are infidelity (59.6%), constant arguing and conflict (57.7%), and marrying too young.
Lack of preparation before marriage is an issue that 42.3% of interviewed participants and 77.8% of married/divorced couples mention as an issue.
Same-sex Marriage and Divorce in the US.
29. The gay marriage divorce rate is equal to that of different-sex couples.
The Williams Institute at the UCLA School of Law did publish data that suggested that the same-sex divorce rate was approximately half of the different-sex divorce rate. However, this was later retracted due to an error in calculating the rates. Revised figures showed the gay marriage divorce rate was broadly the same as married straight couples' divorce rate, in that around 2% of the population get divorced each year.
30. Same-sex divorce data is still limited in the US.
As same-sex marriages were only recognized on a federal level in the US in 2013, there is still a lack of data regarding the rate of same-sex divorces. Over the next 10-20 years, more data on married same-sex couples will be gathered, and divorce rates are likely to become clearer.
Divorce and Children in America
31. 52% of single parents have been married at some point.
Slightly more than half of all single parents have been married. Although this includes widows and widowers, it’s also indicative of many children being raised by divorced parents.
32. 35% of parents who are now cohabiting were once married to someone else.
This statistic implies that a significant number of children are being raised by or living with informal step-parents.
33. Children of divorced parents are more likely to get divorced themselves.
Divorce statistics for children of divorced parents suggest that daughters are 60% more likely to get a divorce themselves. Sons are also more likely to get divorced, but “only” 35% more so than sons from non-dissolved marriages.
However, these stats do not account for the religious, moral, and socioeconomic factors that play a role in this pattern.
US Divorce Rates Compared to the Rest of the World
34. US divorce rates are higher than those of other continents.
Comparative analysis shows that divorce rates in America are higher than in Europe.
Some European countries have fairly similar divorce rates to those in the US, while others have a far lower national divorce average. For Europe as a whole, this average falls below the overall US divorce rate.
35. America has the third-highest divorce rate in the world.
According to the United Nations, the Maldives has the highest crude divorce rate, with 10.97 divorces taking place per 1,000 people each year. Belarus has the second highest worldwide divorce rate, with 4.63 per 1,000, followed by the US at 2.3 per 1,000 people.
The divorce rate in America provides a snapshot of the changing institution of marriage and the views of average Americans.
Both the rate of divorce and the rate of marriage are falling. These statistics indicate that people are choosing more informal personal arrangements instead of formally recognized unions.
Whether you view the divorce rate in America by year or the divorce rate by years of marriage, the statistics regarding marriage dissolution represent society's changing views. Whereas marriage was once the norm, it is no longer seen as quite so essential for a fulfilled life.
Although many people expected the divorce rate 1950-present to increase, it has done the opposite. In the same way, today’s predictions regarding future figures may prove surprising.