U.S. Divorce Rate Hits 50-Year Low
Marriage and divorce are common experiences in the Western world. According to the American Psychological Association, more than 90% of people in Western cultures marry by age 50. Nevertheless, both marriage and divorce rates are declining. In 2020, the U.S. divorce rate hit a 50-year low. Although many people expected divorce rates to skyrocket due to the COVID-19 pandemic, many couples reported feeling closer and more committed to one another as an unexpected result of the crisis.
The Institute for Family Studies expects the drop in the U.S. divorce rate to continue. For every 1,000 marriages in the last year, only 14.9% ended in divorce. Additionally, the median duration of marriages in the United States has increased by nearly one year in the past decade, jumping from 19 years in 2010 to 19.8 years in 2019.
Marriage Rates Decline, Too
While marriages are more likely to last, they are also less likely to occur, in the first place. Only 33 out of 1,000 unmarried adults were wed in 2019, and marriages are more likely to take place between college-educated and financially stable Americans.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, there was a sharp decline in marriage certificates, and many Americans cited “not having a stable job” and being unable to “afford a wedding” as reasons to delay or decide against getting married.
Divorce During COVID-19
About half of Americans who were married during the COVID-19 pandemic report appreciating their spouse more and feeling more committed to their marriage. The other half, however, has fallen prey to what BBC calls the “Covid-19 break-up boom.” Lockdowns around the world have not changed the reasons for breakups and divorces but rather brought them into sharper focus. So far, COVID-19 divorce trends are consistent with those that emerge after other situations involving extended family time, such as school holidays and Christmas.
Of course, the pandemic has brought other challenges, as well, including disrupted routines, the removal of external leisure activities and support systems, financial stress, and an unequal division of domestic labor. Women are initiating the majority (76%) of divorces, and splits are increasingly common among younger newlyweds, who are likely facing one of their first major life challenges as a couple.
Without exception, since WWII, divorces tend to increase during periods of economic downturn.
All this to say that there is no shame in divorce during a global pandemic – or during any other time that relationships don’t work out.
If you are considering divorce, our attorneys at McIntyre Tate LLP can answer your immediate legal questions during a free 15-minute call or schedule a complimentary telephone conference to guide you through your legal options.