Recently, headlines were rife with the news that the oft-cited statistic of a 50% divorce rate has not been accurate for nearly three decades. In fact, the number of people that seek divorce has decreased since it peaked in 1981. If the divorce rate has been falling these past 30 years, why do so many still readily believe there is such a high divorce rate in the United States?
Are less marriages ending in divorce?
Divorce is very easy to measure. A married couple must apply for a marriage license to ensure their union is valid and obtain a divorce certificate when they divorce. The states will ask counties to report the number of divorce certificates they have issued, which is then in turn reported to the federal government. This is how the divorce rate per 1,000 people is tallied.
According to this information, the divorce rate has sharply declined:
- 5.3 per 1,000 in 1981
- 4.7 per 1,000 in 1990
- 3.6 per 1,000 in 2011
However, in addition to the decline in divorce rate, the marriage rate has also taken a nosedive. There has been an increase in the number of unmarried couples with children that cohabitate with one another. While they won't contribute to the divorce statistic, separating is still for complicated for these couples. There are significant legal hurdles that must be cleared. For example, one of the benefits of marriage is the property rights that both spouses are entitled to. When an unmarried couple separates after many years with one another, their joint accounts and property are not automatically divided by the courts, requiring a different legal process.
The data on divorce seems easy to measure, but truly remains unclear. The modern American family has moved away from traditional marriages in favor of other cohabitation alternatives. While divorce may be decreasing, it does not necessarily indicate that less couples are separating from one another.
Whether you need an official divorce or are seeking counsel on separating from your partner, our Pennsylvania divorce lawyer is here to help. Contact the Cairns Law Offices to learn what option is best for your situation.