Divorce Statistics Over the Decades: What’s Changed in 2024?

The word “divorce” can bring up a lot of different feelings, from the excitement of a fresh start to the sadness of ending a once-happy marriage. Many people still think that half of all marriages end in divorce, but that old statistic isn’t true anymore. Although the divorce rate has dropped, the United States still has one of the highest rates in the world.

Divorce is the ending of a marital union. In the United States, as in most countries, it is a legal process where a judge or another legal authority dissolves the marriage between two people. This process typically involves decisions about dividing property, financial support for the former spouse, and arrangements for child custody and support. Divorce also permits individuals to remarry.

In 2024, let’s look at the latest divorce statistics in America. We’ll explore current trends, possible reasons for divorces, and where the divorce rate might be going in the future. Understanding these facts can give us a clearer picture of marriage and its challenges today.

Divorce Rate in America

divorce rate in america

Divorce statistics are calculated in two main ways: the crude divorce rate and the refined divorce rate. The crude divorce rate considers the number of divorces in relation to the entire population. In contrast, the refined divorce rate focuses specifically on divorces among couples who were married within a particular year or time period.

Many more people get married each year than get divorced. These marriage and divorce statistics reveal what happens to marriages that end, as well as when and how couples decide to split up.

  • In 2022, there were 673,989 divorces and annulments in the United States, with a crude divorce rate of 2.4 per 1,000 people. This was a slight decrease from 2021, continuing a long-term downward trend. The lowest recent divorce rate was in 2020, when it was 2.3 per 1,000 people. (1)

  • After hitting a 40-year low in 2020 and 2021, with 14.0 divorces per 1,000 married women, the refined divorce rate slightly increased to 14.56 in 2022. Despite this small rise, the overall trend since 2008 has been a decline. The divorce rate in 2022 was still below pre-pandemic levels. (2)

  • In 2022, the United States saw a notable increase in the number of marriages, totaling 2,065,905. This was the first time since 2019 that the number surpassed 2 million, with 2,015,603 marriages recorded in that year. The marriage rate also rose significantly, reaching 6.2 per 1,000 people, the highest rate since 2018. (1)

  • It might seem logical to assume that after one divorce, people are less likely to divorce again. In some cases, this is true, as people may become more cautious and ensure their relationship is solid before marrying again. However, this isn’t always the case.

    In reality, the chances of divorce increase with each subsequent marriage. The statistics are as follows:

    – 41% of first marriages end in divorce.

    – 60% of second marriages end in divorce.

    – 73% of third marriages end in divorce. (4)

How Much Does Divorce Cost?

divorce rate in america 2024

The median cost of a divorce in the U.S. is $7,000, while the average cost ranges between $15,000 and $20,000. However, the cost of divorce can vary greatly. More complicated “contested” divorces tend to be much more expensive, while simpler “uncontested” divorces are often significantly cheaper. (3)

What Percentage of Marriages End in Divorce

divorce rates over time

As family dynamics evolve, divorce trends offer valuable insights into our current way of life. Divorce trends can change a lot over time because of shifts in societal norms, economic conditions, and legal reforms. These elements affect how and when couples decide to divorce.

  • According to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data, the divorce rate has declined from 4.0 to 2.4 per 1,000 people since 2000, meaning that fewer people are getting divorced now compared to two decades ago. In 2000, for every 1,000 people, 4 got divorced. (1)

In 2013, 40% of new marriages involved at least one partner who had been married before. In 20% of these marriages, only one partner was remarrying, while in another 20%, both partners had been previously married. Additionally, 13% of these new marriages included at least one person who had been married two or more times before. (6)

Moving Forward After Divorce

New data from the National Center for Family & Marriage Research (NCFMR) at Bowling Green State University reveals that entering into a second marriage is becoming less common. Over the past decade, re-marriage rates for both men and women have decreased significantly.

  • The remarriage rate has decreased overall since 2008. For previously married males, it dropped from 48.9 marriages per 1,000 in 2008 to 32.0 marriages per 1,000 in 2021. Among previously married females, the rate decreased from 25.2 per 1,000 in 2008 to 17.2 per 1,000 in 2021. (5)

approximately how many american marriages end in divorce?
  • The remarriage rate is higher for men than for women. In 2019, the remarriage rate for men was 35.1 per 1,000 men eligible for remarriage, whereas for women, it was significantly lower at 19.4 per 1,000 women eligible for remarriage. This data shows that men are consistently more likely to enter into a second marriage than women. (4)

  • Between 10-15% of couples reconcile after they separate. However, only about 6% of couples marry each other again after they divorce. Of those who remarry each other, around 30% end up divorcing each other a second time. (7)

Divorce Outcomes and Impacts

  • Divorce is not only a legal and emotional process but also one with potentially long-lasting consequences. One unexpected outcome is the increased mortality rate among divorcees. Divorced men face a higher risk, with mortality rates of 1,772 per 100,000, compared to divorced women, who have rates of 1,095 per 100,000. (8)

  • “Gray divorce” refers to divorces that occur at age 50 or older. In these late-life divorces, both men and women feel the financial impact of divorce, but the effect on women is much greater. One study found that women who divorce after the age of 50 experience a 45% drop in their standard of living, compared to a 21% drop for men. (9)

  • Decisions about the family home often become contentious during a divorce. In 2022, 53.4% of people who got divorced owned their homes, while 46.6% were renters. (10)

Why Do Couples Divorce?

how many divorces per year

The timing of moving in together is strongly linked to marital instability. Specifically, 34% of marriages ended among those who cohabited before getting engaged, compared to 23% for those who lived together only after being married or engaged. In relative terms, couples who moved in together before being engaged were 48% more likely to divorce than those who cohabited only after engagement or marriage. (11)

statistics on marriage
  •  Pew Research discovered that people are 75% more likely to get divorced if a friend goes through a divorce and 33% more likely if a friend of a friend gets divorced.

    This suggests that divorce can be contagious—you might be influenced by the divorces of not just your close friends but even their friends. (12)

  • When examining the most common reasons for divorce, a lack of commitment stands out as the primary cause, cited by 75% of individuals and couples. This surpasses infidelity, which is reported by 60% of divorcing couples. (13)

  • Protectiveness is often seen as a sign of masculinity, and regardless of whether progressive young women today openly acknowledge it, both masculinity and protectiveness remain attractive qualities in a mate—even in 2024. Women appreciate these traits in a husband. In one survey, wives who rated their husbands highly for protectiveness were more likely to be happy in their marriages and less likely to consider divorce in the future. (14)

Divorce Rate

top reason for divorce

So, you’re wondering how many marriages end in divorce? It’s often said that half of all first marriages end in divorce. However, the reality is more complex.

  • In 2022, the average age of individuals going through a divorce was 46 for men and 44 for women. This aligns with the broader trend of rising divorce rates during midlife. The challenges and changes couples face over time often contribute to the decision to end their marriage, reflecting a culmination of experiences and shifts in their lives. (10)

  • While 34% of women and 33% of men aged 20 or older who have ever married have also divorced, the percentage is much higher for those aged 55 to 64 years, with about 43% of both sexes having experienced a divorce.

    For those aged 65 to 74, the divorce rate is still relatively high at 39%, which is higher than the general adult population. For adults aged 75 or older, the divorce rate drops to 24%. (15)

  • In 2022, the median age for a first wedding in the United States was 28.6 years for women and 30.5 years for men. (16)

highest divorce rate in the world
  • When it comes to divorce, women are more likely to initiate the process than men. Various studies show that around 70% of divorces are initiated by women. This may seem surprising, especially in societies where men have historically been the primary decision-makers. (17)

  • In addition, over 50% of divorced women never want to remarry, while only about 30% of divorced men feel the same way. For both women and men, the average length of a first marriage that ends in divorce is just under 8 years. (17)

  • In 2021, the U.S. marriage rate was 14.9 marriages per 1,000 women, down from 16.3 a decade earlier. Similarly, the divorce rate in 2021 dropped to 6.9 per 1,000 women, compared to 9.7 divorces per 1,000 women in 2011. (18)

Women's Divorce and Marriage Rates

Divorce Statistics by State

Since cultural trends like early marriage can impact divorce rates, it’s not surprising that the likelihood of divorce also varies by location. Different education levels, divorce costs, poverty rates, average age of marriage, and religious and cultural views on marriage vary widely across the United States.

Therefore, it’s not surprising that divorce rates are higher in some areas than others and differ significantly across the country. Here are the states with the highest and lowest divorce rates.

  • Nevada has the highest divorce rate of any U.S. state, with 4.2 divorces per 1,000 marriages. One reason for this high rate may be Nevada’s reputation for having relaxed rules regarding both getting married and ending a marriage. (19)

  • In contrast to Nevada, Louisiana has a notably low divorce rate, with only 0.7 divorces per 1,000 marriages. However, this low rate is likely influenced by the decreasing number of marriages in the state. (19)

State Divorce Rate in 2022
District of Columbia2.0
New Hampshire2.5
New Jersey2.3
New Mexico
New York2.3
North Carolina2.7
North Dakota2.7
Rhode Island2.4
South Carolina2.4
South Dakota2.3
West Virginia3.2

Final Thought

Marriage and divorce rates reveal the ever-changing dynamics of relationships in our society. The current divorce trends show that while fewer divorces occur now compared to previous decades, challenges still exist. Understanding how many marriages last and the factors influencing their success or failure can help couples navigate their own relationships more effectively.

For same-sex couples, the evolving marriage trends reflect both progress and ongoing struggles. The crude divorce rates provide a snapshot of societal shifts, highlighting the importance of support and understanding in maintaining healthy unions. As we continue to analyze divorce statistics, we gain valuable insights into building stronger, more resilient marriages for the future.

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