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What is The Divorce Rate in The U.S.?

patrickcrawford | August 15, 2022

People draw numerous conclusions about the rates of divorce in the United States because various figures can paint different pictures. The most important thing is that when you know that you are preparing to go through a divorce of your own, make sure you are working with an Annapolis divorce lawyer.


The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported that the 1,676,911 marriages and the 630,505 divorces in 2020 were both the lowest totals in the past 20 years for those two categories despite the population being the highest figures of those periods. The marriage rate was 5.1 per 1,000 total population, while the divorce rate was 2.3 per 1,000 total population.

United States Divorce Statistics

The Institute for Family Studies (IFS) reported that divorce in the United States hit a record low in 2019 when for every 1,000 marriages that year, only 14.9 ended in divorce. The rate was the lowest in 50 years and was even lower than in 1970, when 15 marriages ended in divorce per 1,000 marriages.


The lower divorce rate translates to longer marriages, as United States Census Bureau data indicated that the median duration of current marriages in the country increased by almost one year, from 19 years in 2010 to 19.8 years in 2019. The COVI-19 pandemic, however, was expected to cause a bump in the divorce rate because of how lockdowns forced many couples to spend more time together and deal with various forms of stress.


The New York Post reported in May 2020 that divorce inquiries among the top New York City matrimonial lawyers increased 50 percent during the first week of the “pause” order in New York, which was double the number of calls they typically receive. An analysis of numbers by Bowling Green State University (BGSU) found that there was a 12 percent decline in marriages in 2020 but also a 12 percent reduction in divorces.


Maryland saw 26,094 observed marriages and 32,349 expected marriages in 2020. The state also had 10,160 observed divorces and 17,910 expected divorces.


IFS also noted that college-educated Americans, as well as those who were economically better off, were more likely to marry and stay married, while working-class and poorer Americans experienced more family instability and higher levels of singleness. An estimated 64 percent of Americans in the top third income bracket were in intact marriages, meaning only marrying once and staging marries, while 24 percent of Americans in the lower-third income bracket were in intact marriages.


U.S. News & World Report reported in December 2020 that both the divorce and marriage rates were dropping nationally. The 10 states that had the highest divorce rates in 2019 were (based on the number of divorced women per 1,000 married individuals):


  1. Arkansas, 10.70 percent
  2. Oklahoma, 10.40 percent
  3. Nevada, 10.20 percent
  4. New Mexico, 10.20 percent
  5. Kentucky, 10.10 percent
  6. Wyoming, 10 percent
  7. Delaware, 9.40 percent
  8. Utah, 9.40 percent
  9. Kansas, 9.20 percent
  10. Alabama, 9.10 percent


The 10 states having the lowest divorce rates in 2019 included:


  1. Maine, 4.80 percent
  2. South Dakota, 6 percent
  3. New York, 6.10 percent
  4. Pennsylvania, 6.10 percent
  5. Illinois, 6.20 percent
  6. Iowa, 6.30 percent
  7. New Jersey, 6.30 percent
  8. Massachusetts, 6.40 percent
  9. Wisconsin, 6.40 percent
  10. California, 6.50 percent


The United States Census Bureau itself reported in December 2020 that there was a decline in both marriage and divorce rates in the United States between 2009 and 2019, although the rates vary from state to state. The 16.3 new marriages for every 1,000 women age 15 and over in the United States in 2019 was a decrease from 17.6 in 2009, but the American divorce rate also fell from 9.7 new divorces per 1,000 women age 15 and over in 2009 to 7.6 in 2019.


Census data showed that Maryland had a marriage rate of 15.6 compared to a national rate of 16.3. In 2009, Maryland had a marriage rate of 16.1.


BGSU also reported in 2019 that while the American divorce rate slightly declined over the past three decades, the overall trend was masking considerable variation in divorce rates by age group. The divorce rate for people 50 years of age and older has more than doubled since 1990, while the divorce rate for younger adults has declined.


Whereas the overall divorce rate dropped from 19.0 in 1990 to 15.0 in 2017, the rates dropped most considerably among those 15-24 years of age from 47.2 in 1990 to 27.0 in 2017, 25-34 years of age from 33.3 in 1990 to 23.0 in 2017, and 35-44 years of age from 22.6 in 1990 to 21.0 in 2017. The flip side, however, was the divorce rate increased among adults 45-54 years of age from 13.1 in 1990 to 18.0 in 2017, 55-64 years of age from 5.1 in 1990 to 12.0 in 2017, and 65 years of age or older from 1.8 in 1990 to 5.0 in 2017.


The BGSU findings about older adults being more likely to divorce corresponded with the findings of the Pew Research Center. Pew reported that the divorce rate has roughly doubled since the 1990s for adults ages 50 and older.


For every 1,000 married persons 50 years of age and older, 10 divorced in 2015 as opposed to only five in 1990, according to data from the National Center for Health Statistics and the United States Census Bureau. When it came to adults 65 years of age and older, the divorce rate had nearly tripled since 1990, with six people per 1,000 married persons divorcing in 2015.


The United States Census Bureau also reported in November 2021 that estimates from the Bureau’s annual America’s Families and Living Arrangements table package showed the percentage of adults living with a spouse fell from 52 percent to 50 percent over the past decade. Living alone was becoming slightly more common during this time as 37 million (or 15 percent) of adults 18 years of age and older lived alone in early 2021, which was an increase from the 33 million (or 14 percent) in 2011.


During this time, the percentage of adults living with an unmarried partner also increased slightly over the past decade, from 7 percent to 8 percent. The 37 million one-person households in 2021 represented 28 percent of all American households, whereas in 1960, single-person households represented only 13 percent of all households.


Pew also reported that the 34 percent of adults 15 years of age and older who had never been married was an increase from the 23 percent in 1950. The estimated median age to marry for the first time of 30.4 for men and 28.6 for women in 2021 were increases from the respective ages of 23.7 and 20.5 in 1947.

Contact an Annapolis Divorce Lawyer Near You

Are you thinking that your marriage is heading for a divorce in Maryland? You will want to be sure you speak to an Annapolis divorce lawyer at the Law Office of Patrick Crawford.

Our attorney has represented Maryland residents in divorce, child custody, child support, domestic violence, and many other family law matters, including settlement negotiations, trials, and appeals. Call us at (410) 694-7349 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation that will allow us to examine your case and answer all of your legal questions.

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