54 Interesting Facts about Divorce

By Karin Lehnardt, Senior Writer
Published December 18, 2016
  • In New York and Mississippi, a spouse can sue a third party for being responsible for the failure of a marriage in cases of what’s called “alienation of affection.”[12]
  • It’s a law in Wichita, Kansas, that if a man mistreats his mother-in-law, it cannot be used as grounds for a divorce.[12]
  • In 2012, an Italian man brought his mother along on his honeymoon. His new bride asked for a divorce three weeks later.[12]
  • Only two U.S Presidents have known to have been divorced: Ronald Reagan and Donald Trump.[16]
  • The world’s oldest divorcées are a 99-year-old Italian man and his 96-year-old (ex) wife. He divorced her after 60 years of marriage when he found love letters she had written to her lover in the 1940s. They married in 1934 and divorced in 2011.[12]
  • A prosthetic penis could cause tension within a marriage
  • In 2008, a woman asked for a divorce from her husband after his prosthetic penis extension snapped off during sex.[12]
  • In America, the divorce rate peaked at 50% in the 1980s. While the national divorce has declined, a first marriage is still between 40-50% likely to end in divorce.[2]
  • According to U.S. statistics, if one partner smokes, a marriage is 75% more likely to end in divorce.[14]
  • Research shows that couples in Republican states are 27% more likely to divorce than couples in Democratic states. Couples in Republican states have historically married younger than their Democratic counterparts.[9]
  • In ancient Chaldea, a man could get a divorce by writing a letter to his wife’s father or by saying “Thou are not my wife.” However, if the wife ever said, “Thou are not my husband,” she would be immediately drowned.[6]
  • The most commonly cited statistic states that one in every four families will face divorce. More than one million people have parents who separate or divorce each year in the U.S.[8]
  • A divorce is like an amputation: you survive it, but there's less of you.

    - Margaret Atwood

  • In some Native American tribes, if a man left his wife without a serious reason, he was not allowed to remain a member of the tribe. Many tribes did not allow a man to separate from his wife if they had children together. The Aztecs were never permitted to divorce.[6]
  • In the Aleutian Islands, if a man grew tired of his wife, he would barter her for food or clothes.[6]
  • According to U.S. statistics, if there is a daughter and no son in a marriage, the union is 5% more likely to end.[14]
  • The history of divorce is in large part a history of abandoning Catholic teaching on marriage as developed in the 13th century. Simply put, the Catholic Church’s position stated that divorce was forbidden because a validly contracted Christian marriage could be dissolved only by the death of a husband or wife.[4]
  • While historically the Catholic Church forbade divorce, the Pauline Privilege (found in 1 Cor. 7:15) states that remarriage by a Christian is allowed if a Christian spouse had been deserted by his or her non-Christian spouse. A second potential exception is if a marriage had not been sexually consummated and either the husband or wife wanted to enter a religious order. In both of these instances, divorce may be granted in “favor of the faith.”[4]
  • If you don’t have kids, divorce is often easier legally, financially, and emotionally
  • Couples with children have a slightly lower divorce rate than couples without children.[8]
  • While the Roman Catholic Church historically banned divorce, Jewish and Roman law at the beginning of the Christian era were more lenient. Jewish law gave the husband extensive authority to divorce his wife if she “found no favor in his eyes, because he hath found some uncleanness in her.” Jewish law also gave women more rights in initiating divorce.[4]
  • In the Philippines, divorce is illegal. Any divorce that is conducted outside the country is not recognized within the Philippines.[12]
  • Burgundian law declared that a woman who tried to divorce her husband should be smothered in a mire.[6]
  • Divorce is illegal in Malta, a country that is controlled by the Vatican. It is one of the three countries in the world (all Catholic) where divorce is illegal, even if the marriage is not a Catholic marriage.[7]
  • The 5th Texas Court of Appeals recently ruled that same-sex couples who legally marry in other states cannot divorce in Texas.[2]
  • In ancient Rome, a couple could divorce just by declaring their intent not to live together in front of seven witnesses. Divorce was common, especially in the upper classes, and a divorced woman could receive her dowry back in full. She could also regain her independence upon a divorce. However, a woman found guilty of adultery would receive just half of her dowry. The law did not recognize adultery by husbands.[6]
  • In America, the divorce rate for a first marriage is around 41%. The divorce rate for a second marriage is 60%. The divorce rate for a third marriage is 73%.[9]
  • Divorce rates are higher among military personnel than among civilians
  • According to the Defense Department, the divorce rate of military couples rose from 2.6% in 2001 to 3.7% in 2011. The Air Force has the highest rate of divorce out of all the services.[3]
  • The average length of divorce proceedings in the United States is 1 year.[8]
  • The mean age of a woman for a first divorce is 29 years old. For males in a first marriage, it is 30.5. For a second marriage, the mean age for women is 37 years. For men in a second marriage, it is 39.3 years.[9]
  • Women on average wait 3.1 years to remarry after a divorce. Men wait 3.3 years.[9]
  • The divorce rate for couples over 65 years old has doubled since 1980.[8]
  • Western states typically have the highest marriage and divorce rates, followed by the South. The Northeast has the lowest marriage and divorce rates.[9]
  • According to a recent study, dancers and choreographers reported the highest divorce rates (43.1%), followed by bartenders (38.4%), and massage therapists (38.2%). Rounding out the top 10 were casino workers, telephone operators, nurses, and home health aides.[10]
  • Long hours and physical contact with someone other than a spouse can cause tension within a marriage
  • According to 2012 U.S. Census Bureau statistics, New Jersey has the lowest divorce rate. New York, Connecticut, Delaware, and Massachusetts round out the top five lowest rates. The East coast in general has a divorce rate of less than 12%.[9]
  • According to 2012 U.S. Census Bureau statistics, Nevada has the highest rate of divorce at 14.7%. Wyoming, Florida, Kentucky, and Tennessee all have rates of divorce over 13.%.[9]
  • Marriages are more likely to last longer when people marry at an older age, have a higher education, and earn more money.[4]
  • Among the occupations with the lowest divorce rates are agricultural engineers, salespeople, nuclear engineers, optometrists, clergy, and podiatrists.[10]
  • A marriage in which a woman is two or more years older than her husband is 53% more likely to end in divorce than if the husband were three or more years older or only one year younger.[14]
  • Women who have been diagnosed with cervical cancer are more likely to divorce, by 40%. If a man is diagnosed with testicular cancer, the marriage is 20% more likely to divorce. On contrast, breast cancer survivors are 8% less likely to divorce than women who have not had breast cancer.[14]
  • Sometimes "more to love" isn't a good thing
  • Experts note that if a spouse has gained more than 20% of his or her body weight, divorce is more likely.[15]
  • Having twins or triplets increases the risk of divorce by 17%.[8]
  • In Japan, visitors can write their divorce wishes on a piece of paper and flush them down the toilet in the Mantokuji Temple. The temple was traditionally a refuge for women seeking to escape an unhappy marriage.[7]
  • After the 2011 earthquake and tsunami in Japan, the country experienced an increase of divorces and divorce ceremonies.[7]
  • In China, when couples of the Jing people divorce, they throw away the pen and ink stone used to sign the divorce papers because they believe they contain bad luck.[7]
  • Islam has traditionally allowed divorce, which is referred to as talaq. However, it is considered the worst of all lawful things in the sight of Allah. The rates of divorce were higher in the medieval Islamic world and Ottoman Empire than they are in the modern Middle East, which typically has low rates of divorce.[6]
  • The top five reasons for divorce in the U.S. include 1) communication problems; 2) infidelity or betrayal; 3) financial problems; 4) psychological, emotional, and physical abuse; and 5) loss of interest.[2]
  • Contrary to popular belief, premarital cohabitation does not increase a couple’s divorce risk–if the couple intends to get married.[5]
  • Children of divorced parents are twice as likely to drop out of high school and less likely to attend college.[2]
  • Kids at any age often feel uncertain or angry at the prospect of their parents splitting up
  • White women who marry outside their race are more likely to divorce than other ethnic groups. Mixed marriages involving blacks and whites were the least stable interracial marriage, followed by Hispanic-white couples.[18]
  • First marriages that end in divorce usually last approximately 8 years.[11]
  • Divorced men are at an especially high risk of alcohol abuse. In contrast, divorced women’s alcohol consumption falls sharply after a divorce.[1]
  • Approximately 6% of American couples marry, divorce, and then remarry each other.[17]
  • In 2/3 of all American divorces, it’s the woman who files for divorce. Additionally, while men are financially better off than women after a divorce, they are more likely to suffer more emotionally.[17]
  • Asian women on average stay married longer
  • Asian women are the most likely to be in a first marriage that lasts over 20 years. The CDC concludes that 70% of Asian women are still in their first marriage, compared to 54 % of white women, 53% of Hispanic women, and 37 % of black women.[18]
  • Some researchers note that men are eight times more likely than divorced women to commit suicide. They are also twice as likely to suffer depression and heart attacks.[13]
  • The top six signs of an impending divorce include 1) dreaming of life without the spouse; 2) the bad in the marriage outweighs the good; 3) lack of communication; 4) engaging negative defense mechanisms, such as becoming overly defensive and dismissive; 5) a spouse feels like he or she is the only one trying to solve problems; and 6) the couple rarely, if ever has sex.[2]
References

1Abbasi, Jennifer. “Marriage Drives Women to Drink, Study Suggests.” NBC NEWS. August 19, 2012. Accessed : October 11, 2012.

2Bergin, Rory M. and Jared Meyer. Frequently Asked Questions about Divorce (FAQ: Teen Life). New York, NY: Rosen, 2012.

3Burton, Natasha. “Military Divorce: What It’s Like to Split from Your Military Spouse.” Huff Post. May 28, 2012. Accessed: October 11, 2012.

4Clapp, Genevieve. Divorce & New Beginnings. 2nd Ed. New York, NY: John Wily & Sons, Inc., 2000.

5Cohabitation before Marriage? It’s No Greater Divorce Risk.” The Christian Science Monitor. March 22, 2012. Accessed: October 13, 2012.

6De Lys, Claudia. How the World Weds. Detroit, MI: The Martin Press, 1929.

7Divorce Custom: 7 Post-Split Rituals from around the World.” HuffPost. July 21, 2012. Accessed: October 12, 2012.

8Divorce Statistics.” Divorce Statistics. 2012. Accessed: October 13, 2012.

9Divorce Stats in the U.S. by Age and Region of the Country.” Family LawCourts. 2010-2012. Accessed: October 13, 2012.

10McCarthy, Ellen. “Study Breaks Down Divorce Rates by Occupation.” The Washington Post. September 19, 2010. Accessed: October 11, 2012.

11Most People Make Only One Trip down the Aisle, but First Marriages Shorter, Census Bureau Reports.” United States Census Bureau. September 19, 2007. Accessed: October 13, 2012.

12Nigerian Woman Divorces Husband for Talking Too Much.” Huffington Post. September 21, 2012. Accessed: October 16, 2012.

13Ritter, Bill. “Men after Divorce: In Touch with Feelings.” ABC. March 13, 2012. Accessed: October 11, 2012.

14Rufus, Anneli. “15 Ways to Predict Divorce.” The Daily Beast. May 19, 2010. Accessed: October 3, 2012.

15Smith, Mindy. "Ten Signs Your Marriage is Headed for Divorce." The Huffington Post. November 12, 2011. Accessed: December 16, 2016.

16Wapshott, Nicholas. “Jane Wyman, Reagan’s ‘Button Nose.’” New York The Sun. September 11, 2007. Accessed: November 9, 2012.

17----. “We Got Remarried—to Each Other!” MSN. 2012. Accessed: October 10, 2012.

18Yen, Hope. “Interracial Marriage in the U.S. Climbs to New High, Study Finds.” The Huffington Post. February 16, 2012. Accessed: October 5, 2012.

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