Divorce Statistics Across America

For as strong as most marriages begin, many will ultimately end in divorce. It’s rarely anyone’s fault, in particular; it is just that maintaining a healthy relationship forever is more difficult than many spouses expect. Just how many marriages end in divorce, though?

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), in 2021:

  • 1,985,072 marriages were officially recognized.
  • 6.0 marriages occurred per 1,000 people.
  • 689,308 divorces were officially filed*.
  • 2.5 divorces were filed per 1,000 people*.

(* Only 45 states and D.C. report their divorce rates federally. The total number of divorces nationwide will be more than shown, but the overall average rate is not expected to change much.)

Using this information, we can estimate that approximately 34% or one-in-three marriages end in divorce. Most people have heard that “half of all marriages end in divorce,” so it can be encouraging to see that the actual rate is considerably lower.

Where Do Most Divorces Happen?

As mentioned, not all states report their divorce rate data to the CDC for tracking. California, Hawaii, Indiana, Minnesota, and New Mexico have opted out of this data-sharing practice as an additional way to preserve the privacy of their residents. Due to their absence, we can’t know exactly which state has the highest divorce rate, but we can still glean some information from the states that do report federally.

Notable divorce rates per state, according to CDC data, for 2021 are:

  • 1.0: Massachusetts has the lowest reported divorce rate.
  • 1.3: Illinois has a low divorce rate despite its comparatively high population.
  • 3.8: Oklahoma has the second-highest divorce rate, which is consistent with decades of data.
  • 4.2: Nevada has the highest divorce rate, which is likely related to the high number of marriages that are conducted rapidly at entertainment or drive-through chapels.

Why Do People File for Divorce?

Everyone has their reasons for filing for divorce. However, the CDC doesn’t track the specific reasons that people list on their divorce papers. Knowing the most common reasons nationally isn’t possible, at least not in 2021. Future data sets might be expanded to show specific reasons. Based on what we know about divorces in general, though, it is possible to accurately assume the top reasons for divorce.

People commonly file for divorce due to:

  • Incompatibility: Incompatibility is a common reason for divorce in the U.S. This includes disagreements on religious, political, or personal beliefs, leading different lifestyles, and failing to meet each other's emotional needs. If factoring in “irreconcilable differences” as a type of incompatibility, then nearly 50% of all divorces include this reasoning.
  • No commitment: Lack of commitment is another frequent cause of divorce, as couples may grow apart due to spending too much time apart or failing to prioritize their relationship over outside commitments such as work or other relationships.
  • Money problems: Financial troubles can also play a role in divorce decisions. If one partner has more access to resources than the other, it can create an imbalance that can lead to divorce.
  • Cheating: Infidelity is almost guaranteed to end a marriage once it occurs. Even if both partners seek counseling after discovering an affair, it often leads to feelings of betrayal and mistrust that can be difficult for some couples to overcome.

Should You File for Divorce?

Divorce is never easy and carries with it a great deal of emotional pain and heartache. However, when faced with a situation where there are irreconcilable differences or ever-increasing disagreements, filing for divorce may be the best option for all involved. While no one wants their marriage to end in divorce, knowing why people make this difficult decision can help others who are struggling to make sense of what happened in their own marriage and decide what’s best for them going forward.

If you are thinking about divorce, then come to the Law Offices of Jonathan Merel, P.C. for a modern take on divorce and family law. We’re here to reset the expectations that people have about divorce, from start to finish. With a new-age team of attorneys who are professional, reputable, and approachable, we’re ready to help you find an amicable solution that protects your best interests. Please call (312) 487-2795 or contact us online┬áto begin.

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