The Current State of Divorce in the U.S.

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A divorce is the legal act that dissolves a marriage. Research gained by the Center for Disease Control and the National Survey of Family Growth, as well as information retrieved through the United States Census Bureau has led to interesting findings about the current state of divorce in the U.S.

Data shows that marriage rates are at an all-time low, and that people are waiting longer to marry for the first time. Divorce rates have also been dropping during the last few decades. By 2010 it was found that marriages in this century have lasted longer in comparison to marriages in the 1990’s, and experts project that both marriage and divorce rates will continue to drop due to the growing popularity of cohabitation.

Because the Census Bureau performs survey studies only every ten years, their most current data dates from 2009, when more than two million weddings were performed and the divorce rate was 6.8 per 1,000. From 1999 to 2009 there were 19.1 marriages per 1,000 men and 17.6 marriages per 1,000 women in the U.S. During the same time frame divorces were finalized for 9.2 of every 1,000 men and 9.7 of every 1,000 women. It was also found that northeastern states have the lowest divorce rates, and southern states have the highest.

The largest correlational element that leads to divorce is poverty and financial stress. Marriages whose household income is below the median have a greater tendency of ending in divorce. States with a lower base working-class compensation than surrounding states typically have higher divorce rates. Infidelity and young marriages are secondary factors in high divorce rates.

The amount of first, second and third marriages that end in divorce differ significantly. The divorce rate for first marriages is between 40 and 50 percent, the probability of divorce in a second marriage is 60 to 67 percent and third marriage divorces account for a staggering 73 to 74 percent. The amount of people who reach their 25th, 35th and 50th wedding anniversaries are 33, 20 and 5 percent respectively.

The process of a divorce begins when one spouse files a complaint or petition with the court to request a divorce. The court will then schedule a time for an initial hearing at which a judge will review the complaint, answer documents, interview the couple and make temporary decisions that govern the state of the couple’s relationship – this may include information about child custody and child support if any children are involved. After the initial hearing a waiting period will be required before the divorce can be finalized. The waiting period varies, depending on what state in which the divorce is taking place. During this time the couple may negotiate the terms of their divorce, such as division of property and assets. If those terms can not be agreed upon the couple may go through arbitration or mediation.

Finally, if the couple still is unable to see eye to eye, separate lawyers will become necessary to fight for what each spouse believes they are entitled to. A judge will then oversee a final hearing to approve any negotiated settlements, or to impose a settlement. Although an amicable and emotionally healthy divorce is generally the goal, total understanding and agreement in divorce cases is rare. It is therefore highly important that anyone going through a divorce who has any unresolved issues seek the advise of a qualified divorce attorney.


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