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15 Startling Facts About Divorce

Getting divorced is an incredibly difficult process for couples who had previously promised to spend the rest of their lives together. The emotional and financial toll it takes on families can be devastating, at least temporarily. When children are involved, the process is even more complicated. Fortunately, there are a lot of ways parents can help kids cope with divorce.

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Alarming Divorce Statistics

Negotiating custody and child support can lead to a tug-of-war between the parents that drags out for months or even years. And yet, this is a very real situation for millions of moms and dads who are concerned about how their children will cope with it all. For older children who have strong opinions about their living arrangements, consider tween divorce novels that share the perspective of characters who are the same age. Younger kids will benefit by reading picture books about families who are splitting apartHere are some facts about statistics about divorce that will shed some light on how many people are affected and some common reasons why it happens so often.  

  • Close to 50% of all marriages in the U.S. will end in divorce or separation. To break this number down further, researchers estimate that marriages end in divorce according to the following: 41% of first marriages,  60% of second marriages, and 73% of third marriages. 
  • First marriages that end in divorce lasted an average of about 8 years. Of those who remarry, they wait an average of around 3 years.
  • The age when people get married plays a role in the divorce rate. For example, 60% of couples who marry between the ages of 20-25 will get divorced. However, people who marry after age 25 are 24%b less likely to divorce.
  • Couples with children are 40% less likely to get divorced than those without children. But don't let that number fool you. As many as 50% of children in the U.S. will witness the break-up of their parents' marriage.
  • Children raised by parents who are happy and stay together are 14% less likely to get divorced themselves. 
  • The average divorce in the U.S. costs about $15,000.  Families with kids can experience a 50% drop in income. In fact, 60% of people living below poverty are divorced mothers and their children.
  • Finances are a major contributing factor to divorce rates. Research has shown that couples who fight about money on a weekly basis are 30% more likely to get divorced. Furthermore, amongst spouses who believe the other spends money frivolously, the divorce rate jumps by 45%.
  • The average age of divorce is 30 years old. A higher percentage of women (66%) file for divorce compared to men. 
  • Researchers have found that children of divorced parents are 50% more likely to marry someone who also grew up with parents who split.
  • Data has shown that divorce can be a cycle that is hard to break. For example, if one spouse comes from a divorced home, the chance of divorce spike to 50%. And if both spouses come from divorced parents, data points to a 200% higher rate of divorce.
  • Couples who drink (or abstain) together, stay together. If they both drink heavily or both steer clear of alcohol, spouses are less likely to divorce. However, if one spouse drinks a lot and the other does not, the likelihood of divorce is 60% higher than average.
  • Just like drinking, when partners do not share the same smoking habits, the marriage may be doomed. Studies have shown that when one partner smokes and the other does not, the marriage is anywhere from 75% to 90% more likely to end in divorce compared to couples who either both do or do not smoke.
  • Most people are not surprised to hear that divorce take a toll on a person's mental health. Depression, sometimes accompanied by substance abuse, is a very common occurrence. Physical health problems are also prevalent, albeit overlooked side effect of when people sever a marriage. Studies have linked higher rates cancer, obesity, hypertension and heart disease to individuals who have experience a traumatic separation from their life partner.
  • It turns out the women are more likely to file for divorce than men. Statistics point to approximately 70% of the cases are initiated by the females versus males. Some of the many reasons include custody issues and economic problems. A likely explanation is also a shift in women becoming less financially dependent on their spouses and a change in the stigma surrounding divorce.
  • Now here's an interesting nugget. Studies have linked a higher rate of divorce to expensive, over-the-top wedding celebrations. There are a lot of ways to evaluate the reasons behind this connection. Some couple have cited taking on too much debt to pay for the wedding, thus putting extraordinary stress on the marriage afterwards. Another common occurrence is that people spend more time planning the event than considering the lifetime commitment.


More Reading for Kids About Family Dynamics

Stories About Loving Stepfamilies

Helpful Divorce Workbooks for Kids

Children's Books About Moving 


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