Divorce Statistics Collection
Summary of Findings So Far

Part of the Divorce Reform Page, sponsored by Americans for Divorce Reform
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We have collected many researchers' findings on divorce rates in several different countries, states, and cities, and the effects of divorce on children and parents.

From the ongoing process of collecting the information, and from interchange with the many researchers who have e-mailed us with questions or with additions to the page, we have reached several broad conclusions.

1. There is consensus that the overall U.S. divorce rate had a brief spurt after WW2 followed by a decline, then started rising in the 1960s and even more quickly in the 1970s, then levelled off 1980s and declined slightly. (A decline in the divorce rate, however, does not necessarily reduce married people's perceived exposure and vulnerability to the risk of a financially and personally ruinous divorce or decades-long custody war. It also reflects fewer and later marriages).

2. Defining what number the "Divorce Rate" is, however, is elusive and perhaps impossible. There are many different valid measurements. Probably, 40 or possibly up to 50 percent of marriages will end in divorce if current trends continue. However, that is only a projection and a prediction. It does not reflect current reality or the recent past, and things certainly could turn out differently.

3. No-fault divorce laws were one of the principal causes of increasing divorce in the 1970s and since, but were not clearly the foremost cause of the overall increase since the 1960s.

4. Divorce greatly increases, two- or three-fold, the incidence of all kinds of bad effects on children of divorce, including psychological problems, juvenile delinquency, suicide, undereducation, and teen motherhood. Problems arise from conflict during and after divorce more than from conflict during the marriage, and there is an increased incidence of detriment even if the divorce is low-conflict. Problems persist into early adulthood and affect the marriage and mating choices of children of divorce. These differentials mostly are not accounted for by other variables such as parents' incomes. On the other hand, most children of divorce turn out O.K., without serious problems that show up as statistics of social deviance. Divorce probably increases the chances of everything from bad breath to being hit by a bus, but most children of divorce still won't be hit by a bus.

5. Marriage is better than divorce or bachelorhood for the health, wealth and happiness of adults of all ages and genders.

6. Pre-marital counseling helps reduce the risk of divorce somewhat and can prevent many bad marriages. It depends on what kind of counseling, though. Some studies indicate that counseling given as part of "Community Marriage Policies" in certain cities is extremely effective.

7. Proving adultery or "cruelty", or using perjury or collusion, were not the most common means of getting a divorce in the decades before no-fault divorce was passed. "Fault" is still frequently used in divorces in Virginia and probably in at least some other states. Similary unpleasant processes are used in custody litigation in most U.S. states.

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Originally posted and maintained by Americans for Divorce Reform; now maintained by John Crouch. You can call me at (703) 528-6700 or e-mail me through my law office's web site.