divorce and marriage trends in 2020

Statements like “One in three marriages ends in divorce,” and “People who get married young always get divorced,” are common, and while they may have been true at one time, are they still? Our divorce attorneys in Raleigh are taking the opportunity to see how trends in marriage and divorce have changed and how this can affect you in the coming years. 

Changes in Marriage Rates

The biggest shifts we are seeing in marriage is that fewer people are getting married than ever before and people are waiting longer to get married. Nationally, only 48.2 percent of all Americans who are 15 years old and above are married. In 2018, the marriage rate in the United States was 6.5 marriages per 1,000 people, down from 9.8 marriages per 1,000 people in 1990. 

When we dig a bit deeper into the statistics, we’re seeing that individuals are waiting longer to get married, with more couples preferring to cohabitate outside of marriage. In 1990, the median age for a first marriage was just below 24 for women and just above 27 for men. By 2018, the median age had increased to just under 28 for women and just under 30 for men. 

Waiting to Get Married[Source: U.S. Census Bureau]

Compared to 1950, when 59 percent of people between 18 and 34 were married, by 2018, only 29 percent of people in that same age group were married.

It’s important to note that even though the amount of people legally able to get married has grown because same-sex marriage is legal, the rates haven’t increased much at all since that time, leading us to believe that more opposite-sex couples are forgoing marriage, though rates have stabilized over the past 15 years after a continuous decline in the 45 years before that. This leads us to believe that we won’t see the rates go much lower than they are right now. 

Why the Delay in Marriage?

Much of the delay in marriage comes from two major issues. First, more young people are struggling with student loan debt and financial challenges, and would rather wait to get married until they are more financially secure. This, coupled with the fact that “living together” is more socially acceptable than it was 30 years ago, and we can see that more couples are testing out living together before taking the step to get married. 

Surprising Shifts in Divorce Rates

Because fewer people are getting married and people are waiting longer, the divorce rate is also plunging. In 2018, the national rate was only around 2.9 percent, which is significantly lower than the 5 percent we saw in 1990. Much of this is simply because young people aren’t getting married and the rate of marriage overall is lower (Can’t get divorced if you’re not married to begin with). 

One thing that may be surprising is that while divorce overall is down, divorce over 50 is increasingly common. In 1990, one in 10 divorces were finalized for couples over 50, but today, it’s closer to 1 in 4 of all divorces are for that age group. 

No Matter the Trends, Your Situation Is Unique

Regardless of what statistics say, whether you’re young or old, or have been married for a long period of time or briefly, your relationship is unique. If you and your spouse have grown apart, or you’re unhappy in your marriage, our divorce attorneys in Raleigh can help you move on. To schedule a consultation or learn more about our legal services, reach out to us today at 919-230-2280 or fill out our contact form to speak with a divorce lawyer.

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