Divorce Down Among Millennials, But Up Among Older Americans

According to a recent article in The Wall Street Journal, there’s good news and bad news when it comes to divorce. The good news is that younger Americans are divorcing less than they once did. The bad news is that older Americans are divorcing more. However, neither of those facts tells the full story, which is more complicated than it initially appears.

According to a study conducted by the National Center for Family and Marriage Research at Bowling Green University, there are several factors contributing to these phenomena. One is that people now are waiting longer to get married. In 1963, most women married around the age of 20; now, the average age for women to get married is 27. Men wait even longer, with an average marriage age of 29. First, this reduces the divorce rate among younger people because you can’t get divorced if you aren’t married in the first place. Second, it means that younger people are being more cautious about jumping into marriage, choosing to spend more time with their partners (often spending some time living together outside of marriage) before legally tying the knot.

Another factor is that many older divorcees have remarried and are divorcing their second or third spouse, and each subsequent marriage after the first has a correspondingly higher rate of divorce.  Naturally, most millennials in their 20s and 30s are barely on their first marriage, much less their second or third. Additionally, people who marry later tend to divorce less, and many baby boomers (now in their 60s and 70s) married early.

Finally, younger people seem to prefer relatively short-term cohabitation to marriage, at least early on. Between 1980 to 1984, 40% of women lived with their husbands prior to marriage; from 2010 to 2014, that number was around 70%. Additionally, these cohabitation arrangements are often short lived, only lasting for two or three years before they either separate or pursue marriage. The apparent conclusion is that young people are using this type of relationship as a trial for marriage, so they can separate without the legal complications that come with it.

If you are considering divorce, you should seek out an experienced matrimonial attorney to guide you through the process. The matrimonial attorneys at the Marnell Law Group have the knowledge and experience you need to get the best outcome in such a stressful time. Give us a call at (516) 542-9000 or send us a message through our contact page to schedule an appointment.