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Divorce Rates in 2013: A Look Forward and a Look Back

According to the CDC’s National Vital Statistics System, divorce rates in the United States have held relatively steady – and even dropped somewhat – over the last decade. While the newest information is only current through 2011, the trend is clear: The CDC places the rate at 3.6 per 1,000 people for 2011, compared with a 6.8 marriage rate. In 2000, the divorce rate was at 4.0, indicating an overall lowering trend.

These lowered rates are in stark contrast to the last half of the 20th century, during which divorce rates grew steadily. The 1980s saw the high water mark for divorce, with numbers hovering around 50 percent for all married couples. Today, those numbers have lowered to around 40 percent. While experts have come up with a host of theories for the change, higher education and lower marriage rates in general among the most compelling, it seems certain that they will continue to fall in the coming years.

Of course, any divorce lawyer looking at the statistics with mixed feelings will be more interested in deeper demographics than overall trends. Certainly, the lowering of divorce rates is a clear trend for the population in general, but it is rising among certain couples. For instance, divorce has been growing dramatically among those over the age of 50. According to a study done at Bowling Green State University in Ohio, divorce rates have doubled in that demographic between 1990 and 2010. Younger marriages are lasting while baby boomers are increasingly willing to seek their independence.

While a divorce lawyer is not expected to double as a marriage counselor, responsible attorneys will often act as a sounding board for their clients in a time of great strife. Most lawyers are more than willing to help their clients seek the best possible solution, even if that means working on the marriage. For that reason, both attorneys and those in troubled marriages would do well to study the reasons that usually lead to splits and learn from them.

Based on a survey conducted by the National Fatherhood Institute, the top reasons for divorce in the U.S. across all demographics included a lack of commitment by one or both partners, too much arguing, and infidelity. Studies have also pointed out that those couples with children are more likely to stay together, even though the stress of adding children to an already combustible marriage can be difficult to overcome.

Viewing the country on a state-by-state basis can demonstrate some interesting data as well. Massachusetts, for instance, has the lowest divorce rate in the U.S. while Nevada has the highest. In between are 48 states filled with couples trying to avoid becoming just another statistic.