Only one in five state that a lack of love was a reason for divorce
Luckily the average divorce rate for Americans is much lower than what is often cited. While you may have heard that statistically, one out of every two marriages in the United States will last less than a year; that is not actually the case. According to data from the U.S. Census Bureau, the real number is about 30.8%, and that figure includes first, second and even third marriages1).
However, what about the human aspect of divorce and its fallout?
WP Diamonds wanted to delve deep into these questions and asked 1,018 participants for their opinions and insights. What are the emotions that drive people to divorce? What is the financial aspect of divorce? The results of this latest divorce survey in the United States confirm the decrease in divorces while providing new insights into a relationship during a divorce2).
Men are two years older than women at the time of the wedding
WP Diamonds asked 1,018 participants to give insights into their divorces. 93.5% of the participants were female and 6% were male.
As shown in prior studies, people who want to get married and stay married try not to rush into getting hitched when they are young3). On average, the participants were 23.2 years old when they married. Participants agreed that past your early 30’s, the idea of divorce stats start to creep up. In 1980, the estimated age of couples during their first marriages were 24.7 for men and 22.0 for women. 38 years later, there has been a slight increase in age, with an average age of 25.3 for men and 23 for women. Of course, other factors play a more significant role in life planning, such as taking longer to find the right partner.
The average age at the time of divorce is 38.7 with marriages lasting 15.5 years. The study shows that the average length of a marriage is longer for those who married when 25 or younger (16.8) in comparison to those who married after the age of 25 (11.3).
The average divorce process takes 1.5 years
After deciding to get a divorce, people often don’t know what to expect. The months following this decision require patience and perseverance. The complexity of the divorce process can be seen in its duration: the longer the marriage, the longer the divorce process typically lasts. For people who were married for 5 years or less, their divorce took an average of 11.9 months, while marriages that lasted over 11 years took around 20 months to conclude. However, the length of a divorce cannot be predicted accurately. The duration of divorce depends on the divorce seekers themselves, as well as on divorce resources used and the processing speed of the family court, among other factors.
Lack of communication is the number one reason for divorce
One focus of the study was to determine the most common reason why married couples decide to part ways. Communication issues was the top reason for failed marriages as stated by 34% of survey participants. Of those participants, 27% were male and 36% were female. Another finding involved the differences within age groups. Older couples were less likely to state “lack of communication” as a reason for the divorce. Only one in five who married when 36 or older cite lack of communication as a reason.
In contrast, a quarter of participants who married before the age of 25, stated that a lack of communication was at least one reason for their separation. The study also shows that the longer you are married, the more likely poor communication becomes a reason for divorce. Studies from the University of Washington4) show that communication problems which lead to divorce can be divided into four types: criticism of partners’ personality, contempt, defensiveness, and stonewalling (the refusal to communicate at all).
Only one in five say: “We just didn't love each other anymore”
The study revealed that relationship satisfaction among certain couples decreased after their wedding. 20.7% of these participants stated that they no longer loved each other and therefore filed for divorce. An explanation for this low percentage could be that love is only one of many reasons for a wedding, and therefore just one of many reasons to file for divorce.
The results also showed that 84% of the divorces were initiated by one partner, while 14% were initiated by both partners. One might think that divorces, like wedding proposals, are likely to be initiated by men, but the study reveals that only one in four men claim to have initiated their divorce. These findings are in agreeance with other surveys5) that show women as the main initiators of divorce.
Infidelity in marriage rises
Besides a lack of communication and falling out of love, other reasons stated for divorce include the inability to resolve conflict (22.2%), different life goals (10.2%), lack of individual freedom (12.6%) and financial issues (12.6%). As shown in other studies6) with similar results, infidelity plays a more considerable role for the younger generation.
In fact, infidelity rates in the U.S. have dramatically increased in the last 25 years. 24% of the study’s participants confirm that infidelity was a reason for their divorce, when most participants married when 25 years old or younger (83.2%).
Domestic violence as a reason
The rarest of reasons cited for divorce is domestic violence (3.5%). Unfortunately, that low number does not mean that there have been significant improvements in this area in recent years, as seen when comparing the results of the study to data from the U.S. Census Bureau7).
Of the participants that cited domestic violence as a reason for divorce, one in four considered consulting a professional therapist for help. Understanding that help is available is crucial. We encourage anyone affected by domestic abuse to call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE or visit www.thehotline.org to find help and advice.
Relationship during divorce
Participants were also asked to give insights to what their relationship was like during the divorce process. A quarter of participants responded that their relationship was good during the divorce process, while a majority (59%) described their relationship as hostile or difficult. Therefore, 78.4% of study participants thought it was for the best if one of them moved out.
86% of participants say that they had children at the time of divorce
No matter the age, divorce is a dramatic change for children. Witnessing loss of affection between parents, adjusting to going back and forth between different households and the daily absence of one parent while living with the other are factors that create challenges that families with children need to adjust to. Parental divorce can sometimes be a dramatic turning point in a child’s upbringing.
Out of the 1,018 study participants, 86% stated that they had children at the time of the divorce. Other surveys8) have found that children whose parents are in the midst of a divorce are most likely hoping for their parents to part if they are unhappy. The results showed that it was ultimately better for the parents to go their separate ways. The same survey also showed that children want greater involvement in decisions made during the divorce process. More than 60% of those polled felt that their parents had not allowed them to be part of the decision-making process of their separation or divorce.
A look at the custody rates reveals another noticeable trend: women are more likely to receive sole custody than men. Almost 98% of the study’s participants who claimed to take care of their children on their own were women. Sole custody is most common in the United States, with only a third (31%) of participants claiming to have shared custody.
Divorced people typically seek professional help from a lawyer
The longer the divorce process, the likelier people are to feel overwhelmed by the sheer amount of work and emotional stress brought on by the divorce. The desire to move on and begin one’s new life is strong, but not always easily accomplished. Participants were asked if they sought out professional help during or after the divorce, with 26% reporting that they did not. The remaining 74% sought assistance in several areas, including emotional counseling, financial support and legal advice.
The majority of study participants sought legal help from a lawyer at least once (40%), while one in four said they considered getting help from a therapist. As divorce follows a specific pattern of grieving, many participants navigated through their emotional stages of divorce with the help of a counselor. There are several stages grief during a divorce: denial, pain, uncertainty, anger, bargaining, guilt, depression and acceptance.
Almost one in two feel relief after the divorce
These painful stages can give rise to the most profound changes in the participants’ state of mind after the divorce. Almost half of the participants (47%) stated that they felt relieved immediately after divorce. The study also showed that there was a significant difference in the grieving process between men and women, as more women felt relief after the divorce than men (48% female to 36% male). The feeling of relief resulted in positive mindsets, as 26% of participants said that they felt stronger and more independent following their divorce. One in four women claimed that they felt strong and independent, compared to only 16.7% of male participants. Sadness and regret was felt by every one in four women.
To quickly make money after a divorce, sell something
Many people feel the need to raise money to supplement their finances after a costly divorce. Whereas a small number of participants (14%) considered taking on a side job to cover their costs, most chose other sources of income with a noticeable difference between the genders. Overall, borrowing money from friends (21.7%) was seen as more preferable than taking out a loan from the bank (12.9%). Whereas more women chose the former, men preferred the latter. One reason for this could be that women are more likely to communicate their financial issues to friends and family, while men tend to solve financial problems on their own.
The most prominent outcome of the study is that the majority of participants considered selling jewelry, clothes and other personal belongings. Selling items that are symbols of a broken relationship, such as the engagement and wedding ring, can be a practical way to raise funds for the divorce. Interestingly, the majority of individuals who considered selling their belongings were women, compared to only 7.5% of men. This could be due to women possessing more valuable jewelry to sell or because men feel a stronger sentimental attachment to items that represent the past.
Nonetheless, 17% of participants stated that even though their financial situation was better post-divorce, they still considered selling their jewelry. This suggests that people are looking to rid themselves of items tied to negative memories.
One in two divorces cost over $10,000
Leaving the past behind comes not only with an emotional cost, it also brings financial stress. WP Diamonds asked participants to give an estimate of their divorce costs. Many individuals are not fully aware of the expenses they will incur during divorce. The majority of participants (49%) stated that the cost of their divorce was over $10,000, with 40% stating that their cost was between $10,000 and $20,000.
As previously described, the duration of the divorce process is proportional to the length of the marriage, with its costs tied to a marriage’s length as well. Of the participants that were married 11 years or longer, 56% stated that their divorce costs were over $10,000, compared to the 30% who were married for a shorter time. Of the divorces that took longer than a year, 53% claimed their divorce costs were over $10,000, compared to the 39% whose process was one year or less.
Divorce costs also play a significant role with regards to the post-divorce financials. For most of the participants (47%), their economic situation became worse, while over one third (36%) stated that their finances remained the same.
Three out of four divorcees consider remarriage
A divorce might feel like the end of a chapter in your life, but it is also the start of something new. WP Diamonds asked the study participants if they would consider marriage for the second time and if not, would they go back to their maiden name. Many responded with a very positive outlook.
Almost three-fourths of participants have considered remarrying or have already tied the knot for a second, or even third time. Only a small group (9%) stated that they would never marry again.
The difference between genders is significant – 75% of women state that they would do it again, while only 45% of male participants considered another marriage. As for last names, only a third of participants would revert to their maiden name, some of which have already pursued this option.
Divorce report 2018
In January 2018, U. S. citizens were questioned on specific issues surrounding their divorce. 1,018 participants responded to questions about their financial situation, their feelings in relation to the divorce and the reasons for their separation.
The results confirm official data on the development of divorces while providing new insights regarding the relationship between former partners during their divorce.