Divorce Rates: Exploring the Influential Factors and Trends

Over the past decade, divorce rates in the United States have undergone notable changes, showing a steady decline. In 2019, the divorce rate fell to 7.6 new divorces per 1,000 women aged 15 and over, compared to 9.7 in 2009 (Census.gov). Factors contributing to this decline are varied, ranging from societal shifts to changes in economic stability.

While analyzing divorce rates, it is also essential to consider the trends in marriage rates, as they provide context for the larger picture of relationships and commitment within society. In 2019, there were 16.3 new marriages for every 1,000 women aged 15 and over, down from 17.6 in 2009. This decrease suggests that people are generally more cautious when making long-term commitments, which may be influenced by personal goals, financial stability, and shifting cultural norms.

By taking a closer look at these divorce and marriage rate trends, valuable insights can be gained into how societal, economic, and personal factors contribute to the evolving landscape of committed relationships in the United States, thus enabling a better understanding of the dynamics of modern partnerships.

Historical Perspectives

In the United States, the evolution of divorce rates can be observed through different decades. Over the past 150 years, we have seen significant changes in marriage and divorce trends, reflecting the generational shifts in societal values and changing family dynamics.

During the 1950s, less than 20% of married couples divorced, and only about 11% of children born to married parents saw their parents part ways (National Affairs). In contrast, the 1970s saw a dramatic increase in divorce rates, with about 50% of the couples who married during this time eventually getting divorced. This affected nearly half of the children born to married parents in that decade.

By 1980, the divorce rate reached 5.2 divorces per 1,000 people, but by 1989, it had dropped to 4.7. Throughout the 1990s, the divorce rate remained stable at about 4 divorces for every 1,000 Americans; however, as the decade progressed, there was a slow decline in the rate.

More recently, marriage and divorce rates in the United States experienced a decline between 2009 and 2019. In 2019, there were 16.3 new marriages for every 1,000 women aged 15 and over, down from 17.6 in 2009.

Global Divorce Rates

By Region

In recent times, global trends have shown a decline in marriage rates, with around two-thirds of women being married or cohabitating. This marks a small decline from 69% in 1970 to 64% projected for 2020. Regional differences, however, remain significant in this trend. Our World in Data provides a comprehensive account of these changes in marriage rates.

By Country

Countries across the globe exhibit varying divorce rates. In 2020, the country with the highest divorce rate was the Maldives, whose divorce rate was 5.52 per 1000 people. This was based on a count of 2984 divorces in a population of 540,544.

According to the United Nations, these two countries had the most annual divorces as of 2009:

  • Albania – 4.76 divorces per 1,000 population
  • Algeria – 6.31 divorces per 1,000 population

It is essential to consider the data sources when analyzing divorce rates. For instance, the United Nations Statistics Division calculates key indicators such as crude marriage and divorce rates to facilitate comparisons between countries. More data is available through the United Nations Statistics Division.

Factors Affecting Divorce Rates


Age is a significant factor in divorce rates. Couples who marry at a younger age tend to have a higher likelihood of divorce than those who marry at an older age. This can be attributed to various reasons, such as a lack of maturity, financial instability, and changes in personal values over time.


Education often plays a role in divorce rates, with higher levels of education typically correlating to lower divorce rates. Individuals with more education may have more stable careers, better communication and problem-solving skills, and a greater understanding of the challenges and responsibilities that come with marriage.


Income can also impact divorce rates, as financial instability and stress may contribute to relationship strain. Couples with a higher combined income generally have a lower risk of divorce, as they are more likely to be financially stable and able to navigate financial challenges together.


Cultural norms and beliefs can have a significant influence on divorce rates. Divorce may be less accepted or stigmatized in some societies, leading to lower divorce rates. Additionally, attitudes towards gender roles and expectations within a marriage can contribute to relationship satisfaction or dissatisfaction, affecting divorce rates.


Religion can also play a role in divorce rates. Some religious beliefs and practices may encourage couples to work through challenges and prioritize maintaining the marriage, which can contribute to lower divorce rates. Conversely, couples who do not share the same religious beliefs may experience conflict and a higher likelihood of divorce.

Effects Of Divorce Rates

On Children

Divorce significantly impacts children, who often face various emotional, behavioral, and mental health challenges. Some common issues children encounter due to divorce include a higher risk of abuse, increased anxiety, and poor academic performance.

On Adults

Divorce not only affects children but also has profound effects on adults. It can lead to financial instability, decreased mental well-being, and a higher risk of developing substance abuse problems. However, when laws make divorce easier and quicker, there can be unexpected positive outcomes, such as a decrease in female suicides by 8% to 16% and a reduction in domestic violence by around 30%.

On Society

In the broader context, divorce rates also influence society as a whole. Marriage rates have declined over the past decade, with 16.3 new marriages per 1,000 women aged 15 and over in the United States in 2019, down from 17.6 in 2009. Moreover, societal perception of marriage and parenthood has shifted, with a ‘decoupling’ of parenthood and marriage occurring in recent years.

Strategies To Reduce Divorce Rates

Marriage Education

One effective strategy to reduce divorce rates is marriage education. Marriage education programs, such as Marriage Savers, teach couples essential skills for building and maintaining a successful marriage. These programs focus on improving communication, conflict resolution, and understanding each other’s needs.

Research has shown that marriage education can lead to more satisfying and stable relationships, ultimately reducing the likelihood of divorce. Couples who participate in marriage education programs are better equipped to navigate the challenges that may arise in their relationships, helping them to stay together in the long term.

Relationship Counseling

Another strategy to lower divorce rates is relationship counseling. Couples experiencing difficulties in their relationship can benefit from the guidance of a trained professional. Relationship counseling can help couples identify the root cause of their problems and develop strategies to address them.

Some benefits of relationship counseling include enhancing emotional connection, improving communication skills, and fostering a deeper understanding of each other’s needs. By investing time and effort in relationship counseling, couples can strengthen their bonds and avoid the potential pitfalls that may lead to divorce.

Policies and Laws

Government policies and laws can also play a role in reducing divorce rates. For instance, a study found that increasing the minimum wage can have a positive impact on divorce rates among low-income families. According to the UCLA-RAND study, a $1 increase in the minimum wage led to a 7-15% decrease in divorce rates among low-wage earners over the next two years.

Moreover, policymakers could enact legislation encouraging couples to undergo marriage education and relationship counseling before the divorce. This approach can help couples explore all available options before ending their marriages.

Online Divorce

Online divorce services have emerged as a helpful solution for couples seeking a cost-effective and convenient alternative to traditional divorce proceedings. These platforms assist couples in completing and filing the necessary paperwork, allowing them to navigate the divorce process on their terms.

Among the numerous online divorce services available, some reputable options include Divorce.com, LegalZoom, and 3StepDivorce. These providers offer various features and benefits, such as attorney-reviewed documents, flexible payment options, and free supplemental resources to assist users throughout the process.

Choosing an online divorce service can be based on factors such as:

  • Cost: Affordability is crucial for many couples. Online divorce services typically have lower costs compared to traditional divorce proceedings. For example, GetDivorcePapers offers a base price of $139.
  • Ease of use: The divorce process can be complex, but a user-friendly platform helps simplify it, making it more straightforward for couples to complete their paperwork.
  • Support: The availability of customer support, guides, and other resources can make the process easier and more manageable.

In addition to the financial benefits, using an online divorce service can save time and reduce the stress associated with traditional divorce proceedings. These services provide a streamlined process for document preparation, allowing couples to focus on negotiating the terms of their divorce, such as custody and asset division. Furthermore, online divorce services may help minimize conflicts between spouses by facilitating more amicable resolutions.

Frequently Asked Questions

When discussing divorce rates, a few questions commonly arise. We’ve compiled answers to some of the frequently asked questions below.

How much does a divorce cost?

The median cost of a divorce in the U.S. is $7,000, while the average ranges between $15,000 and $20,000. The costs can vary depending on the case’s complexity and whether it’s contested or uncontested.

What are the common reasons for divorce?

  • Lack of preparation or understanding
  • Infidelity
  • Financial stress
  • Lack of communication
  • Abuse (physical or emotional)

Many divorces occur within the first ten years of marriage, especially between the fourth and eighth anniversary.

How do age and marriage duration affect divorce rates?

Statistics show that 48 percent of those who marry before age 18 are likely to divorce within ten years. Divorce rates are highest among couples in their 20s.

How can I find more resources on family law and divorce?

The American Bar Association (ABA) provides a client manual that answers common questions about divorce and other family law issues. It covers property division, custody, domestic violence, and working with an attorney.