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Is America’s divorce rate really 50 percent?

If you are a married Texan contemplating divorce, you probably are very sad. All the hopes and dreams you had on your wedding day have come crashing down and you now are faced with the realization that you and your spouse are about to become just one more statistic to add to America’s 50 percent divorce rate. But is that rate really valid?

Refinery29.com, a women’s news group, reports that the 1980 U.S. Census Report is directly responsible for the 50 percent divorce rate figure that we all have heard about – and believed – ever since. Considering that this report came out at the height of the Women’s Movement when “everyone” was getting divorced, it is not surprising that it predicted that half of the American couples married in 1976 and 1977 eventually would divorce and that the rate would continue to climb.

Divorce factors

What happened, however, is that America’s divorce rate actually fell since then. However, “the divorce rate” is not one country-wide rate that applies to all couples equally. It varies widely from state to state and is heavily influenced by such factors as the following:

  • The age at which you marry: If you marry between the ages of 28 and 32, your chances of remaining married are substantially higher than if you marry before the age of 25.
  • Your educational level: The farther you go in college before marrying, the less likely it is that your marriage will end in divorce. Women who drop out of college to get married are nearly twice as likely to get divorced as those who graduate.
  • Whether you have children: If you and your spouse have children, you are far less likely to divorce than childless couples.
  • Whether or not you are religious: While it is true that religious couples stay together far more than nonreligious ones, among couples who do get divorced, 74 percent are Christians while only 20 percent are agnostic or atheistic.
  • Whether your parents divorced: People whose parents were divorced tend to repeat the pattern. In addition, many children who grew up in a divorced household never marry at all when they grow up. Researchers theorize that such children “get the message” that marriages are doomed to failure.

In Texas, the divorce rate was 2.9 divorces per 1,000 residents in 2013, down from 3.1 divorces per 1,000 residents in 2012. If you and your spouse lived in Nevada or Maine, the states with the highest divorce rates, you would face a 14 percent chance of getting divorced. Where you live does make a difference. This information is only intended to educate and should not be interpreted as legal advice.

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