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January Is Peak Divorce Time: 12 Divorce Statistics That Just Might Trip You Out

If you're considering filing...read this first.

Marriage

When you’re a marriage life coach (that would be me), it’s rare that news of a divorce ever shocks you. Still, I get how and why it caught some people off guard when DeVon Franklin and Meagan Good decided to call it quits, almost 10 years in and right as we were approaching, the year of our Lord, 2022. Per usual, there has been a ton of speculation. All I’m gonna say is marriage remains beautiful, merging two lives is always challenging and before you decide to jump the broom yourself, it’s a good idea to know as much as possible about what you’re getting into — this includes what the stats say about divorce. And intel offers up quite a bit of insight on the topic.


Although I’ve cross-referenced most of these, for the sake of not taking you to a billion different sites, feel free to go here to cite where I’m pulling the majority of this data from. And as you’re going through these 12 points, as a child of a twice-divorced and three-time-married woman, I’ll just say that you definitely should take the decision to get marriedand the decision to get divorcedvery seriously. It ain’t no joke and, contrary to what our culture may want you to thin, it isn’t as simple as…just doing it.

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1. 50 Percent of All Marriages Still End in Divorce. Kinda.

Actually, this point is pretty controversial because it depends on who you ask. What is known for sure is, at the very least, about 40 percent of marriages get to the point of standing before a judge to unravel their union, which is still pretty high in my book. I mean, just think about it — 4 out of every 10 couples who pledge “until death do us part” don’t make it to that goal? And don’t get me started on how many people stay yet are unhappy; that definitely takes this up to about 60 percent of marriages not being as healthy and thriving as they should be. It’s quite a sobering thought, once you let it all sink in.

2. First Marriages Typically End Within the First Eight Years, Around the Age of 30 for Most People

So, when do people find themselves wanting to end their marital union? It’s typically around the age of 30 and usually somewhere after the seven-year itch. There is indeed a theory that’s been floating around since forever, that once a couple hits the seven-year mark, all hell can start to break loose when it comes to communication breakdowns, financial woes, intimacy issues, and a host of other things. So, if you are approaching the seven-year mark, my two cents would be to speak with a therapist/counselor/relationship coach — just to be sure that there aren’t any “mouse holes” that need to be “covered up.”

Also, if you are someone who has already been divorced and you are considering getting married again, the stats only go up with each marriage. It’s 67 percent for the second marriage and a whopping 70 percent for the third. My personal take is because a lot of people don’t take the time to take the saying “everywhere you go, there you are” very seriously. Meaning, if you didn’t process what you needed to learn and/or take the time to heal from your first marriage…you’re just bringing “old stuff” into something new; especially if your next spouse is in the same mental and emotional boat as you are.

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3. The Average Cost of a Divorce Is a Pretty Nice Vehicle

Cheaper to keep her. You can say about it what you want but two top reasons why a lot of married people find a way to make things last is 1) children and 2) finances. I mean, just paying attention to what Dr. Dre and his ex-wife have been going through is proof in and of itself. And just what is the average cost of a divorce? On average, somewhere around $15,000. Like I said, it ain’t cheap.

4. Divorce Can Put You in the Poverty Level

Speaking of cheaper to keep her (or him), another thing to keep in mind about divorce is it can literally sink you down to the poverty level. This makes a lot of sense when you factor in the fact that the cost of living only continues to increase, making it easier to survive in a two-income household than one (the average annual wage within the United States is $51,916.27, by the way).

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5. People Who Make Less Money Tend to File More

Interestingly enough, people who make over $50,000 tend to file for divorce 30 percent less than those who make under $25,000. While you would think that folks with less money would need their partner’s income more, people with more money are aware that they have more assets to lose. Hmph. It’s amazing how you can figure out how to work things out when you really want to, huh?

6. Couples Who Argue Over Coins Three Times a Week Are in Real Trouble

It always trips me out how, when I’m in a premarital counseling session and I bring up showing credit scores and talking about past spending habits, folks act like it’s an invasion of privacy or something. Umm, when you decide to share your life with someone on as deeply a profound level as marriage, one way or another, they are gonna find out all of that info anyway. Besides, better to be forthcoming before jumping the broom; especially since a leading cause of divorce continues to be financial woes.

And, as you can see with this particular point, couples who argue over money three times a week or more need to see a professional stat — including a financial consultant. Otherwise, they are 30 percent more likely to end their marriage. As far as the kind of money fights that transpire most — debt, different ways of prioritizing money, figuring out how each person feels about the other’s income, determining who to give money to outside of the household and whether or not to have children — are all based on where people are financially.

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7. 70-80 Percent of Women File for Divorce

I’ve been knowing this for quite some time and yet, it still trips me out whenever I read it. Mostly because the Bible says that it wasn’t good for man to be alone and so God gave him a helpmate (Genesis 2:18-25). So, to process that most women end marriages, that is really something. I actually also read that within the Black community and among college-educated women, the number jumps to a freakin’ 90 percent.

With so many articles about men who feel pressured to get married in the first place (check out “10 Men Told Me How They Feel About ‘Marriage Pressure’”)…let’s just say that I plan to circle back around to this topic sooner than later.

8. Massage Therapists Get Divorced More. Optometrists Get Divorced Less Often.

Reportedly, 60 percent of all divorces transpire between the ages of 25-39. As far as occupations that are more likely to end their marriage, marriage therapists (38.2 percent) and bartenders (38.4 percent) are pretty up there. So are telemarketers (49.2 percent), practical and vocational nurses (47 percent), and flight attendants (50.5 percent). And who is on the lower end of divorcing? Optometrists sit at 4.1 percent. Clergy at 5.61 percent (I personally think it’s higher but…that’s for another time). Surprisingly (at least, to me), the military is 28.3 percent, education is 30.1 and finance is 33 percent.

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9. The Divorce Rate Is Significantly Lower When You Have Kids

Whenever people ask me if I think married people should stay together for their kids, my answer is usually somewhere along the lines of, “If you think your kids won’t be affected, significantly so, by your divorce, you are delusional”. Personally, I am a fan of a husband and wife putting their marriage before their children because when kids know that their parents are in a good place, so are they. That said, to divorce without considering how it will affect your children, long-term, is pretty selfish. At this point, about one-quarter of children in this country live with a single parent, the poverty rate of single-mother households is basically 25 percent and, when you get a chance, check out Everyday Health’s “What Are The Effects On Children Of Single Parents?”. It’s quite sobering.

Anyway, I’m thinking that a lot of married people know some of this because there is a 40 percent chance that people with kids will divorce less than those who don’t have them. On the flip side, people who have children prior to getting married have a 24 percent higher risk of ending their marriage than those without kids prior to saying “I do.”

10. If Your Parents Were Happily Married, Your Divorce Risk Decreases. If Your Parents Get Married Again, Your Divorce Rate Significantly Increases.

This stat doesn’t shock me one bit. Back when my late fiancé was alive, when we would have a disagreement and I would be like “So you wanna break-up then?”, he would always — and I do mean, always — respond along the lines of “Why is that always your go-to? Damn, Shellie.” I was wired that way because that’s how I saw my parents handle things. It’s the PTSD of divorce that doesn’t come up, nearly enough. That’s why I get that if you come from a happily married household (like my fiancé did), your chance of divorcing decreases by 14 percent. Meanwhile, if you have stepparents, your chance of divorcing increases. By how much? A whopping 91 percent, chile. That’s…a lot.

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11. Divorce Attacks Health Like Smoking Does

I can’t tell you how many times, when the topic of divorce comes up from a client who is contemplating it as I’m trying to get them to get the weight of what they are considering, I will hear “I know plenty of people who did it and turned out just fine.” We’re resilient by nature and so yes, divorce can be survived like anything else in life. Yet again, if someone told you that making that decision didn’t affect them, oftentimes in ways they didn’t predict, they are lying to you — I don’t care who it is.

In fact, it’s been reported that around one-third of people who ended their marriage regret it after the fact. Not only that but there is intel that also reveals that divorce can impact our health in a way that is similar to smoking cigarettes (the stress alone makes this make sense). You actually increase your death rate by 23 percent over married folks when you divorce. Goodness.

12. Marriage and Divorce Rates Are Decreasing

Over the past couple of years, word on the street is that divorce rates are dropping. That would be dope if it wasn’t tied into the fact that marriage rates are decreasing too. Last fall, The New York Times published an article entitled, “The Married Will Soon Be the Minority” that offered up some insight as to why. From a spiritual and biblical perspective, you’ll never get me to cosign on the belief that marriage is obsolete.

What I will say about the current decline, though, is hopefully more people are getting that marriage and divorce are nothing to play with. Both are serious. Neither should be entered into lightly. Both have lasting consequences as, hopefully, these stats have revealed…before any of you consider filing during the most “popular” month of the year — which is now.

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You may not know her by Elisabeth Ovesen – writer and host of the love, sex and relationships advice podcast Asking for a Friend. But you definitely know her other alter ego, Karrine Steffans, the New York Times best-selling author who lit up the literary and entertainment world when she released what she called a “tell some” memoir, Confessions of a Video Vixen.

Her 2005 barn-burning book gave an inside look at the seemingly glamorous world of being a video vixen in the ‘90s and early 2000s, and exposed the industry’s culture of abuse, intimidation, and misogyny years before the Me Too Movement hit the mainstream. Her follow-up books, The Vixen Diaries (2007) and The Vixen Manual: How To Find, Seduce And Keep The Man You Want (2009) all topped the New York Times best-seller list. After a long social media break, she's back. xoNecole caught up with Ovesen about the impact of her groundbreaking book, what life is like for her now, and why she was never “before her time”– everyone else was just late to the revolution.

xoNecole: Tell me about your new podcast Asking for a Friend with Elisabeth Ovesen and how that came about.

Elisabeth Ovesen: I have a friend who is over [at Blavity] and he just asked me if I wanted to do something with him. And that's just kinda how it happened. It wasn't like some big master plan. Somebody over there was like, “Hey, we need content. We want to do this podcast. Can you do it?” And I was like, “Sure.” And that's that. That was around the holidays and so we started working on it.

xoNecole: Your life and work seem incredibly different from when you first broke out on the scene. Can you talk a bit about the change in your career and how your life is now?

EO: Not that different. I mean my life is very different, of course, but my work isn't really that different. My life is different, of course, because I'm 43. My career started when I was in my 20s, so we're looking at almost 20 years since the beginning of my career. So, naturally life has changed a lot since then.

I don’t think my career has changed a whole lot – not as far as my writing is concerned, and my stream of consciousness with my writing, and my concerns and the subject matter hasn’t changed much. I've always written about interpersonal relationships, sexual shame, male ego fragility, respectability politics – things like that. I always put myself in the center of that to make those points, which I think were greatly missed when I first started writing. I think that society has changed quite a bit. People are more aware. People tell me a lot that I have always been “before my time.” I was writing about things before other people were talking about that; I was concerned about things before my generation seemed to be concerned about things. I wasn't “before my time.” I think it just seems that way to people who are late to the revolution, you know what I mean?

I retired from publishing in 2015, which was always the plan to do 10 years and retire. I was retired from my pen name and just from the business in general in 2015, I could focus on my business, my education and other things, my family. I came back to writing in 2020 over at Medium. The same friend that got me into the podcast, actually as the vice president of content over at Medium and was like, “Hey, we need some content.” I guess I’m his go-to content creator.

xoNecole: Can you expound on why you went back to your birth name versus your stage name?

EO: No, it was nothing to expound upon. I mean, writers have pen names. That’s like asking Diddy, why did he go by Sean? I didn't go back. I've always used that. Nobody was paying attention. I've never not been myself. Karrine Steffans wrote a certain kind of book for a certain kind of audience. She was invented for the urban audience, particularly. She was never meant to live more than 10 years. I have other pen names as well. I write under several names. So, the other ones are just nobody's business right now. Different pen names write different things. And Elisabeth isn’t my real name either. So you'll never know who I really am and you’ll never know what my real name is, because part of being a writer is, for me at least, keeping some sort of anonymity. Anything I do in entertainment is going to amass quite a bit because who I am as a person in my private life isn't the same a lot of times as who I am publicly.

xoNecole: I want to go back to when you published Confessions of a Video Vixen. We are now in this time where people are reevaluating how the media mistreated women in the spotlight in the 2000s, namely women like Britney Spears. So I’d be interested to hear how you feel about that period of your life and how you were treated by the media?

EO: What I said earlier. I think that much of society has evolved quite a bit. When you look back at that time, it was actually shocking how old-fashioned the thinking still was. How women were still treated and how they're still treated now. I mean, it hasn't changed completely. I think that especially for the audience, I think it was shocking for them to see a woman – a woman of color – not be sexually ashamed.

I hate being like other people. I don't want to do what anyone else is doing. I can't conform. I will not conform. I think in 2005 when Confessions was published, that attitude, especially about sex, was very upsetting. Number one, it was upsetting to the men, especially within urban and hip-hop culture, which is built on misogyny and thrives off of it to this day. And the women who protect these men, I think, you know, addressing a demographic that is rooted in trauma that is rooted in sexual shame, trauma, slavery of all kinds, including slavery of the mind – I think it triggered a lot of people to see a Black woman be free in this way.

I think it said a lot about the people who were upset by it. And then there were some in “crossover media,” a lot of white folks were upset too, not gonna lie. But to see it from Black women – Tyra Banks was really upset [when she interviewed me about Confessions in 2005]. Oprah wasn't mad [when she interviewed me]. As long as Oprah wasn’t mad, I was good. I didn't care what anybody else had to say. Oprah was amazing. So, watching Black women defend men, and Black women who had a platform, defend the sexual blackmailing of men: “If you don't do this with me, you won't get this job”; “If you don't do this in my trailer, you're going to have to leave the set”– these are things that I dealt with.

I just happened to be the kind of woman who, because I was a single mother raising my child all by myself and never got any help at all – which I still don't. Like, I'm 24 in college – not a cheap college either – one of the best colleges in the country, and I'm still taking care of him all by myself as a 21-year-old, 20-year-old, young, single mother with no family and no support – I wasn’t about to say no to something that could help me feed my son for a month or two or three.

xoNecole: We are in this post-Me Too climate where women in Hollywood have come forward to talk about the powerful men who have abused them. In the music industry in particular, it seems nearly impossible for any substantive change or movement to take place within music. It's only now after three decades of allegations that R. Kelly has finally been convicted and other men like Russell Simmons continue to roam free despite the multiple allegations against him. Why do you think it's hard for the music industry to face its reckoning?

EO: That's not the music industry, that's urban music. That’s just Black folks who make music and nobody cares about that. That's the thing; nobody cares...Nobody cares. It's not the music industry. It's just an "urban" thing. And when I say "urban," I say that in quotations. Literally, it’s a Black thing, where nobody gives a shit what Black people do to Black people. And Russell didn't go on unchecked, he just had enough money to keep it quiet. But you know, anytime you're dealing with Black women being disrespected, especially by Black men, nobody gives a shit.

And Black people don't police themselves so it doesn't matter. Why should anybody care? And Black women don't care. They'll buy an R. Kelly album right now. They’ll stream that shit right now. They don’t care. So, nobody cares. Nobody cares. And if you're not going to police yourself, then nobody's ever going to care.

xoNecole: Do you have any regrets about anything you wrote or perhaps something you may have omitted?

EO: Absolutely not. No. There's nothing that I wish I would've gone back and said to myself, no. I don’t think at 20-something years old, I'm supposed to understand every little thing. I don't think the 20-something-year-old woman is supposed to understand the world and know exactly what she's doing. I think that one of my biggest regrets, which isn't my regret, but a regret, is that I didn't have better parents. Because a 20-something only knows what she knows based on what she’s seen and what she’s been taught and what she’s told. I had shitty parents and a horrible family. Just terrible. These people had no business having children. None of them. And a lot of our families are like that. And we may pass down those familial curses.

*This interview has been edited and condensed

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