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A Look Back at 2017 Divorce Statistics


Divorce is an area of law that continually evolves. Aside from new legislation, case rulings, and even tax reform, it is also impacted by various trends, new perspectives, and changing attitudes in society. Today, divorce is viewed much differently than it was in the past, and those views have shaped our laws and the ways attorneys provide the tailored representation clients need to protect their rights and interests.

When it comes to assessing changes that drive the evolution of divorce and family law, taking a closer look at statistics and what they mean is important. Data is a powerful tool for understanding not just how society is changing, but also what needs to be addressed when individuals and families face new or challenging legal issues.

Sad Child Sitting Between Two Divorced Parents

Below, we’ve compiled a few important divorce statistics from the previous year:

  • Marriage isn’t for everyone – An increasing number of Americans, and particularly young adult millennials, are delaying marriage or opting out. While cohabitation of couples has increased across all age groups, statistics suggest those couples don’t view marriage as a prerequisite for wanting to live together or have children. In fact, a 2017 relationship study conducted by the legal service Avvo showed that just 5% of respondents viewed having a child as a primary reason to get married. Marriage has also become less common among older adults who have previously divorced, and who choose committed relationships over binding legal unions. With adults of various ages viewing marriage differently than in the past, it is natural that they will view divorce differently as well.

  • Divorce rates are declining – Divorce rates were at their peak in the 1980s and 1990s, but they have steadily declined since then. According to the U.S. CDC, divorce rates fell to a 35-year low in 2015, and have continued their downward trend into 2018. This trend is likely due more to fewer couples choosing to get married than to improved marital relationships. It also doesn’t mean divorce lawyers are hard up for business. In fact, more Americans than ever recognize the importance of working with experienced legal representation when they do choose to divorce their spouse.

  • Gray divorce rates are increasing – While the divorce rates in general have steadily declined throughout the years, rates of divorce among older adults (known as “gray divorce”) are actually on the rise. According to one Avvo study, adults 55 and older accounted for the highest percentage of first-time divorces than any other age group. When older couples do choose to end a marriage, they have a number of unique issues and concerns to address. This includes not only having more assets than younger couples, but also retirement accounts, health care benefits, medical issues, and more. Given the importance of these matters, older adults can benefit from working with experienced attorneys.

  • Greater acceptance of divorce – Statistics plainly show that there is a greater acceptance of divorce today than ever before, even as divorce rates fall. A 2017 Gallup Values and Beliefs poll found that 73% of Americans view divorce as morally acceptable—the highest rates ever, and 14% higher than in 2001. Divorce acceptance has grown most among older adults. Experts credit this in part to a larger shift in American values, and even more so to greater awareness of what constitutes healthy relationships, issues like domestic violence, and having become more familiar with divorce and life beyond it.

  • More couples are getting prenups Prenuptial agreements have earned a bad rap over the years, and have largely been viewed as unromantic or something exclusive to celebrities and the very rich. According to a survey conducted by the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers (AAML), however, over 63% of lawyers have reported an increase in prenuptial agreements in the past 3 years alone (especially among millennials), as well as a nearly 50% increase in the number of women initiating prenup requests. Marriages involving couples who are older than previous generations, and who own more assets or have established meaningful careers before tying the knot, have a lot to do increased prenup rates, as do more gray divorces involving older Americans. Today, prenuptial agreements are seen as an effective and practical means to protect individuals of all ages when they make one of the most important decisions in life.

  • Over a million children are affected by divorce per year – Divorce has an impact on all family members, including children. As Avvo reports, more than 60% of divorcing spouses have children, and over one million children each year are part of divorce. Because divorce can have a lasting impact on a child’s wellbeing, it becomes critical to prioritize them and their best interests in all matters, including those involving custody, parenting plans, and amicable arrangements that provide them with support and health relationships with both parents.

As a law firm that focuses exclusively on divorce and family law matters, our team at Coker, Robb & Cannon, Family Lawyers has seen these changes first-hand, and they have helped shaped how we address the unique concerns of clients, protect their interests, and pursue the best possible resolutions during their divorce cases. We believe we play an invaluable role in acting as professionals who advocate for our clients’ rights, interests, and futures. We also believe that what’s important to our clients is important to us.

Viewing divorce from the data it leaves behind is a helpful exercise in better understanding how it can change and evolve over time, but it is always important to remember that divorce is a personal experience and legal process that’s different for everyone. If you are considering divorce or are in need of addressing a related legal matter, our attorneys are available to personally review your case and discuss how we can be of assistance. Coker, Robb & Cannon, Family Lawyers proudly serves the residents of Collin County, Denton County, and surrounding areas of Texas.

Call (940) 293-2313 to discuss your case today.

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