You may have heard that divorce rates have actually fallen over the last few decades. This is true. There was a surge in divorce when no-fault divorce laws began, but the numbers did not continue to rise. They have been falling ever since. Some have said that current rates are lower than they’ve been in 50 years.
A quick look at this data suggests that people must be engaging in more happy marriages and staying together. But is that what’s happening?
The key is to look at the marriage rates and the divorce rates together. What you’re going to find is that marriage rates are also plummeting and have not been so low in 30 years.
This explains the low divorce rate. It’s not that people are happier in their relationships. They just have no need to get divorced if they never got married.
A big part of it is just that couples living together before marriage is more common than it used to be. If a young couple wanted to move in together in the past, they got married at 21 and hoped for the best. Often, that led to a divorce in their 30s. Today, they just live together at 21 and, if they break up, they don’t have to get divorced.
This doesn’t mean they don’t run into complex legal situations, however, especially where children are involved. All couples need to make sure that they know what rights they have and that they understand the legal options at their disposal.