Why is the divorce rate so high in the US?

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In spite of all the vows that couples take during their wedding ceremony, roughly 40% of Americans leave their marriage. Most people believe that most relationships fail because one partner cheated on the other. While that is a common reason, several marriage-related studies conducted by counselors and therapists reveal that there can be many causes of a failed relationship.

The 5 that are most often cited are:

1.  Breakdown in communication

2.  Sexual dissatisfaction

3.  Infidelity

4.  No balance between relationship and life commitments

5.  Selfishness

An unhappy marriage is rife with fights, uncertainty about the future, unequal workloads, and a basic lack of compatibility.

Is the Divorce Rate Increasing or Decreasing?

Depending on which publication you read or what expert you listen to, the marriage rate is either increasing or decreasing.

In a 2014 demography report, Kennedy and Ruggles write that rather than decreasing, the divorce rate in the US has been steadily increasing for the past 30 years. 

However, according to the Pew Research Center, Divorce rates have dropped 21% among those aged 25-39—from 30 in 1,000 to 24 in 1,000. 

Unfortunately, it is difficult to pinpoint whether the divorce rate is increasing or decreasing because:

Some studies measure the divorce rate based on the number of divorces per every 1,000 people married. Others measure base it on a percentage of the total population. Still others base it on the number of divorces in a particular segment of the population.

Many sources of statistics use the government census as the basis of their data, but all people in the US are not counted in the census. Other sources of statistics may be based on surveys conducted in a sampling of the population where people have the ability to bias their answers

However, we can agree on a relative estimate of the percentage of marriages that will end in divorce, which is high in the US.

Steve Sweeney, a representative for the National Survey of Family Growth, estimated in 2012 that the lifelong probability of a marriage ending in divorce is 40%-50%. Today, most experts agree with that prediction. 

The census reports that the US is among the 10 countries with the highest divorce rates in the world. 

Reasons for the High Rate of Divorce

Independence is highly valued in our society. Many people grow up believing that they are entitled to have things their way and learn to control their surroundings to get what they want. Unfortunately, marriage is not an independent undertaking and requires sharing and sometimes yielding to the other partner’s wishes in order to be successful.

Before the 20th century, courts would not allow a divorce decree unless it could be proven that one spouse was at fault for abandonment, cruelty, mental illness, or adultery. During the 1960s when feminism was just gaining ground, the Uniform Marriage and Divorce Act was passed, which allowed for a no-fault divorce.

Of people who married between 2006 and 2010, 78% of women and 65% of men with bachelor's degrees could expect their marriages to last at least two decades. On the other hand, women with a high school degree or less face a meager 40% probability of their marriages and survive the same period. In most cases, educated individuals make higher incomes

When you delay getting married until you are around 25, your odds of divorce decline. People under the age of 25 are less mature and not as sure about the decisions they make. [9]

The rise of divorce is especially striking among older adults: among those aged 55 to 64, the divorce rate has quadrupled over the past three decades. There are several factors involved:

*  People are living longer in general.

*  Many couples that stayed together for the sake of the children decide to part ways after the children are grown.

*  Women are more financially independent than in years past and less likely to stay in an unhappy marriage. 

It is often said that how you are brought up can predispose you to certain conditions in your own life. People that have a history of divorce in their own family have an increased likelihood of getting divorced

Given the high rate of divorce in America, it pays to wait to get married until you are over the age of 25 and have known each other a while. Those who are better-educated with a family history of happy marriages also tend to have a better chance of a successful marriage. People who are more willing to share and accept the give and take of marriage stand the best chances of a successful marriage.

Shawn Leamon, MBA, CDFA is the host of the “Divorce and Your Money Podcast” and Managing Partner of LaGrande Global, with offices in Dallas, New York and Hanover, New Hampshire.

 

 

Shawn Leamon, MBA, CDFA

Dallas, Texas

Shawn C. H. Leamon is Managing Partner of LaGrande Global, a firm that helps successful families manage large financial transitions like divorce, inheritance and selling a business.

He earned his Bachelor of Arts from Dartmouth College, double majoring in Economics and Philosophy, and his Masters in Business Administration at Spain’s IE Business School.

Before founding LaGrande Global, Shawn helped manage $1.1 billion in client assets at Bernstein Global Wealth Management. He also worked as a credit research analyst at J.P. Morgan. He is a Certified Divorce Financial Analyst, and he has been an advisor to numerous high-stakes divorce cases.

Shawn is the author of two well-received finance books: Managing Private Wealth: Principles, and Divorce and Your Money: The No-Nonsense Guide, both published in 2016.

In his spare time, Shawn is an ultra-endurance athlete and has competed in events as long as 24 hours. He is an Eagle Scout and a member of the Alumni Board of Greenhill School.