Many media reports would have you believe that the divorce rate in the U.S. is out of control, stating that as many as 50 percent of marriages end in divorce. It simply is not true according to a recent article by New York Time’s columnist Claire Cain Miller. In fact, divorce rates in the U.S. have been declining for the last three decades, following a brief ‘divorce peak’ in the 1970’s through the early 80’s.
So why the peaks and valleys in divorce rates over the last several decades? Some research points to the cultural shift in America following WWII. In the post war days of the 50’s and 60’s, marriage was often a coupling of a bread-winning husband and a homemaker wife as depicted on the television series Madmen.
However, it is believed that the economic and social upheavals caused by the new feminist movement of the 70’s changed the way marriage looked in the modern age. Those marrying prior to this cultural shift sometimes found themselves with partners that were a good match for the postwar culture, but not particularly suited to the new times of enhanced opportunity. As a likely result, divorce rates peaked in the 70′ and 80’s.
Today, the decline in divorce can be tied to a variety of factors. Fewer people are getting married, with the largest declines noted among groups at the greatest risk of divorce – young, working-class, uneducated.
Many couples that do tie the knot are marrying later – perhaps taking the opportunity to pursue higher education and careers – resulting in more marital stability.
The increased rate of couples living together prior to marriage may contribute to lower divorce rates – some never make it to the alter after co-habitating, while those who ultimately decide to marry may have a better grasp of the commitment they are entering into.
Single-parenting has earned a cultural nod, making ‘necessary’ marriages a relic of the past. The reduction of these typically unstable unions drives down the divorce rates in the U.S.
All combined, it appears that marriage is an institution evolving along with the larger culture. Certainly, there are many things to consider when it comes to issues involving marriage, family and divorce in the U.S. today. If you have a question regarding family law including prenuptial agreements, paternity, or a divorce matter, contact the Law Offices of Ronald L. Bell. We are here to help.
Source: New York Times.com, “The Divorce Surge Is Over, but the Myth Lives On”, by Claire Cain Miller, December 2, 2014.