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Examining the Declining Divorce Rate in the United States


While the divorce rate in the United States may be at its lowest level in 37 years, the idea that relationships are more stable than ever before is hardly true, at least to some experts.

Last week, an Associated Press story detailed how the United States is currently averaging 3.6 divorces per every 1,000 household. Such a low divorce rate in the United States has not been seen since 1970.

The story also examined the history of the U.S. divorce rate over nearly the last 50 years. U.S. divorces began to increase in the 1960s before shooting up in the 1970s and early 1980s. During this time period, most states had made it easier to get a divorce by adopting no-fault divorce laws.

The divorce rate in the United States reached its peak in 1981 when there were 5.3 divorces per every 1,000 people. With that said, the current divorce rate seems to refute recent beliefs that more people than ever are getting divorced.

However, some experts have added that the declining divorce rate does not necessarily mean that relationships are better off than in years past. Specifically, these experts have contributed this decline to the fact that more people are living together without being married nowadays. Since 1970, the number of unmarried couples who are living together has increased tenfold.

Other experts have cited evidence of a "divorce divide," in which divorces are down for certain types of people and relatively the same for others. Specifically, these experts have said that the divorce rate has declined for people with college educations. On the other hand, divorces have remained the same for couples with less education and affluence.

Experts have also noted several other reasons why the U.S. divorce rate is on the decline. To begin with, the U.S. marriage rate has dropped by nearly 30 percent since 1970. Of other interest, people are waiting longer nowadays to get married as compared to the past. Specifically, people are getting married five years later nowadays as compared to 1970.

Proposed Divorce Laws Have Been Trying to Curb Divorce

Despite these most recent figures, legislators have been trying to curb divorce rates in their respective states throughout 2007. Whether it's been extending the divorce waiting period, proposing covenant marriages, requiring pre-marital and divorce education classes or doing something else, many legislators have been under the impression that divorce is threatening the sanctity of marriage unlike ever before.

Here are just some examples of the means in which some states have been trying to curb divorce this year.

Legislators in Texas and Nebraska have both tried to strengthened marriages with the hopes of curbing divorce in their respective states. Texas legislators have supported a proposal advocating the attendance of premarital education courses in exchange for waiving the states' marriage license fee. In Nebraska, one proposed law would penalize couples who do not attend eight hours of marriage education classes by mandating a 30-day waiting period and $100 fee for a marriage license.

Getting a divorce would not be as easy in the past with proposed laws in several other states. A recently-signed Utah divorce law now requires couples with children to attend a class on the divorce process and its effects prior to even being able to file for divorce. Tennessee and Alabama have both considered extending the divorce waiting periods for couples with children while Texas, Indiana and Oklahoma have all considered the option of covenant marriages, which would make it harder to get divorced except in instances like domestic abuse and violence.

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