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Divorce Statistics

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Before you get married for the first or subsequent time you should stop ignoring a reality of marriage and understand the Divorce Rate Statistics:

Your Marriage will probably end in divorce.

Divorce Rate Statistics
Divorce Trial Statistics
Divorce Rates by Age and Gender
When do People Divorce?
Re-Marriage and Divorce
Divorce and Family Trends
Only 10% Reconcile after Separation
Links to Statistical Resources

Although it is not statistically reported, the percentage of people who get married who believe that their current marriage will end in divorce is probably nill, yet even second marriages fail 75% of the time.

Why do people ignore divorce statistics? The reason for this is that people so deeply desire what they perceive as the benefits of feeling loved, that they ignore the warning signs of doom.

Unknowingly all people will sub-consiously believe or consiously rationalize that:
  • These warning signs of doom are not really a big deal;
  • Divorce statistics are just numbers and it "won't happen to me";
  • Things will be different when we are married;
  • They have too much invested to end a "pretty good relationship" supported by the fear of loss;
  • They do not need to work on their own personality and relationship issues;
  • The problem is with the other person, not accepting that they are repeating the same errors that caused disruptions in prior relationships;
  • What they Need is to seek out that dysfuntional relationship resulting from misguided childhood neuro associations about what love is supposed to be, i.e., dysfunctional acts that they subconsciously conclude are acts of love, typically from parental misconduct or maladjustment.

The Divorce Rate represents a condition of society which constitutes a paradigm factor in feeling loved or unloved.

Paradign factors affect the way each person in that society will value what they want and need from a relationship.

By understanding how your Values define your needs and wants, you can better evaluate the likelihood of divorce, given how you personally would most likely formulate the Equity of the Deal for you.

If you are trying to reconcile or marry again, this insight allows you to become aware of relationship pitfalls, and to better understand and perhaps thereby consiously decide what it is that you really want from a relationship, rather than sub-consiously be drawn to a dysfunctional relationship based upon events and circumstances that affected you as a child.

If you are contemplating divorce and wondering how to best position yourself to exit the marriage with minimal damage, these concepts are critical in understanding the how timing can lead to either a sucessful divorce or a contested divorce nightmare.

All statistics cited are to neutral government sources such as the U.S. Census Bureau, the Center for Disease Control, FEDSTATS, and the non-partisan Urban Institute. Please contact Webmaster if you find any dead links.


Divorce Rate Statistics and Trends

The National Center for Health Statistics reported the U.S. divorce rate for the 2001 a calendar year is 47.6% of new marriages per capita. (per capita: 4.0 divorces / 8.4 new marriages = 47.6%) Monthly Vital Statistics Report, Vol. 50, No. 14. (September 11, 2002). The most recent report indicates a divorce rate of 50.6% of new marriages per capita. (per capita: 3.8 divorces / 7.5 new marriages = 50.6%) Monthly Vital Statistics Report, Vol. 52, No. 22. (June 10, 2004).

Marriages - The total numbers of U.S. marriages (including those states that did not report divorces) was reported as 2,355,005 in 2000

Divorces – The total numbers of U.S. divorces (excluding those states that did not report divorces) was reported as 957,200 in 2000

The Divorce Rate is misleading for several reasons:
  1. Not all states report divorce statistics;
  2. Divorce count is based on the total population (per capita) as the base, not the total married as the base, thus the divorce rate is actually higher since the number married is less than the total population;
  3. Using per capita at today's population, distorts the comparison of current marriages versus current divorces since divorces that occur today arose out of a lower population base than the current population base;
  4. Looking at it from an individual's perspective, since there are 2 people per divorce, the probability of divorce of any married person getting divorced is significantly higher;
Divorce Rate Trends

As the Traditional View of marriage and relationships is undermined by changes in society, culture, and economics, key statistical trends in marriage, divorce, and living arrangements are identified:

Marital Status and Living Arrangements: March 1996 (Census Bureau P20-496 Issued March 1998)

Highlights from U.S. Census Bureau report: "Marital Status and Living Arrangements: March 1996 (Census Bureau P20-496 Issued March 1998)"

  • A Decling Proportion of Adults are Married
  • Divorced Population is Growing the Fastest
  • Never Married Adults More Than Doubled Since 1970
  • Postponement of Marriage Continues
  • Unmarried Couple Households Increased Seven Fold since 1970
Number of Times Married for People 45 Years Old and Over by Race and Ethnicity: Fall 1996

Report Summaries from 1996 U.S. Census Bureau Report: "Number, Timing, and Duration of Marriages and Divorces: 1996", U.S. Census Bureau Current Population Reports, February 2002

  • Most Adults have Married Only Once
  • Most People who Have Ever Divorced are Currently Married
  • The Median Age for Widowhood is Lower for Black and Hispanic Women than for White Non-Hispanic Women
  • First Marriages that End in Divorce Last 7 to 8 Years on Average
  • Half of Those That Remarry After a Divorce From a First Marriage Do So Within About 3 Years


Divorce Trial Statistics

Strange as it seems, although people typically fight fiercely during contested divorce litigation, virtually all cases end in a settlement rather than a trial.

This happens because marriage is an emotional bond and in the super majority of cases, both parties have not adjusted or accepted that divorce with be the inevitable outcome of their marriage. The incompatible timing becomes an issue, parties beome angry, and sometimes violent.

  • New Jersey Dissolution Cases – 32,000 in 2001 (over 149,000 additional non-dissolution cases for support, visitation and so forth);
  • New Jersey Divorce Trials – 234 to conclusion by trial in 2001. Thus, only .7 of 1% are not settled;
  • Average Marrige Length - Most Marriages Last 7 years.


Divorce Rates by Age and Gender

Divorce Rate Statistics and Marital Status Chart by PopulationAbout 50% of first marriages for men under age 45 may end in divorce, and between 44 and 52% of women's first marriages may end in divorce for these age groups.

The likelihood of a divorce is lowest for men and women age 60, for whom 36 percent of men and 32 percent of women may divorce from their first marriage by the end of their lives.

A similar statistical exercise was performed in 1975 using marital history data from the Current Population Survey (CPS). Projections based on those data implied that about one-third of married persons who were 25 to 35 years old in 1975 would end their first marriage in divorce.

People, who in 1996 were about 45 to 55 years old, had already exceeded these projections as about 40% of men and women in these ages had divorced from their first marriage. Current projections now indicate that the proportion could be as high as 50% for persons now in their early forties."


When do People Divorce?

"Marriages are most susceptible to divorce in the early years of marriage. After 5 years, approximately 10% of marriages are expected to end in divorce - another 10% (or 20% cumulatively) are divorced by about the tenth year after marriage. However, the 30% level is not reached until about the 18th year after marriage while the 40% level is only approached by the 50th year after marriage."


Re-Marriage and Divorce

Since the quoted study was released in 1996 the rates for re-marriage and divorce have changed dramatically according to reports made in the New Jersey Parenting Education program. (This is an educational class that both parties in a dissolution, that involves children, where no restraining orders issued, are required to attend.) The statistics clarify that the rebound relationship knows no age limits.

  1. In the 1996 national study:
    • 50% get remarried within 1st three years of divorce;
    • Length of the second marriage was less than 7 years
  2. Currently in New Jersey:
    • 80% will get remarried within 1st three years;
    • 75% of these will get divorced within 3 years of that marriage.


Divorce and Family Trends

Divorce Rates Affect on Median Age at First Marriage Causing Postponement of Marriage

Postponement of Marriage – "The Median age at first marriage has been rising since the mid-1950s and has increased quite rapidly during the past two decades. In the twenty years spanning 1955 to 1975, the estimated median age at first marriage increased about 1 full year (from 22.6 years to 23.5 years for men and from 20.2 to 21.1 for women). Since 1975. the median age has increased more than 3 full years for men and women, climbing to 27.1 years for men and 24.8 years for women in 1996". U.S. Census Bureau: Marital Status and Living Arrangements: March 1996 (P20-496).

This trend is consistent or increasing since 1996 as the median age for first marriage in 2000 was 26.8 for men and 25.1 for women. U.S. Census Bureau: American Families and Living Arrangements: June 2001 (P20-537)

"The marriage rate has fallen nearly 30% since 1970 and the divorce rate has increased about 40%". The Abolition of Marriage, by Maggie Gallagher

As the new generation of children of divorce grows older, more and more men and women postpone marriage

Number Divorced Quadrupled - "The number of divorced people has more than quadrupled from 4.3 million in 1970 to 18.3 million in 1996". U.S. Census Bureau: Marital Status and Living Arrangements: March 1996 (P20-496). "…25 percent of women 15 years and older were never married and 13 percent were divorced or separated in 2000 compared with 22 percent and 6 percent respectively in 1970. In contrast, 52 percent of women 15 and older were currently married in 2000, down from 60 percent in 1970. The same trend occurred for men…" U.S. Census Bureau: American Families and Living Arrangements: June 2001 (P20-537)

Decrease in Children Living with Two Parents – "The rise in the divorce and delay in first marriage among adults are two major factors contributing to the growing proportion of children living with one parent…The proportion of children under 18 years living with two parents has declined from 85 percent to 68 percent between 1970 and 1996". U.S. Census Bureau: Marital Status and Living Arrangements: March 1996 (P20-496). this trend remains consistent in the U.S. Census Bureau: American Families and Living Arrangements: June 2001 (P20-537)

Unmarried Couple Households Increase Seven-Fold Since 1970 – "The number of unmarried-couple households (couples of the opposite sex) has grown seven-fold since 1970 – from 523,000 in 1970 to 4 million in 1996…The majority of adults in unmarried-couple households are under 35, and the majority have never been married…By marital status, 57 percent have never been married, 32 percent are divorced, 7 percent are separated or living apart from their spouse for some other reason, and 5 percent are widowed". U.S. Census Bureau: Marital Status and Living Arrangements: March 1996 (P20-496). this trend is again verified as "81 percent of households in 1970 were family households, but by 2000, family households made up only 69 percent of all households". U.S. Census Bureau: American Families and Living Arrangements: June 2001 (P20-537)


Only 10% Reconcile after Separation

"Approximately 10 percent of all currently married couples (9 percent of white women and 14 percent of black women) in the United States have separated and reconciled" Wineberg and McCarthy, "Separtion and reconciliation in American marriages," Journal of Divorce & Remarriage 29, 1993: 131-46.


Links to Statistical Resources


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