Divorce Rates are Falling: At Least for Some People

Divorce rates are falling – at least for people under 45. However, the divorce rate has doubled for those over 55 and tripled for those over 65.

Believe it or not, divorce rates are falling and that statistic is pretty interesting. Over the past few years, our office has seen more child custody actions between unmarried parents, incoming questions regarding paternity and the rights of unmarried mothers and fathers, and more.

Our office has even brought an extra attorney on board to specifically work with juvenile matters as well as parentage, child custody, child support, and visitation disputes between parents who are not married to each other.

Why (Some) Divorce Rates are Falling

According to Bloomberg.com and Apple News, divorce rates are actually decreasing – at least for people under 45.  This younger generation – those in the group known as “Generation Y” and the younger half of “Generation X” – are not only waiting longer to get married, but they are also staying married when they take the plunge.

The Bloomberg and Apple News discussions on this topic are based upon a study by professor Philip Cohen of the University of Maryland. He states that in 2016, the divorce rate for this group was 18 percent less than it had been eight years before in 2008.  You may think that that is because fewer people in this age group are getting married, or perhaps they are just getting older and decided to stay married because of age.

That’s not the case, though. Professor Cohen came up with the same results after factoring out the number of marriages in the group as well as the ages of the divorcing couples.  It is true that fewer people are getting married, but more of them are staying married and the percentage of the couples staying married is higher.

Couples under 45 are staying together, while the divorce rate for older couples has doubled (for those over 55) or tripled (for those over 65).

While all of this applies to those under the age of 45 who are getting married, the same type of stability has not been seen in the same age group of couples who live together but are not married. The statistics indicate that there is less stability among couples who live together but are not married. These relationships don’t last as long as they used to, however, and some think that this trend may last over a period of the next few years.

The baby boomer divorce rate in America, however, has continued to rise at a historically high rate. In fact, statistics indicate that divorce rates for those aged 55-64 have doubled in the 25 years between 1990 to 2015, while those aged 65 and older have experienced divorce rates which have tripled in numbers. (The statistics surrounding baby boomers are derived from Bowling Green University’s National Center for Family and Marriage Research.)

Due to the fact that more parents are in the growing group of people living together without being married, and the statistics regarding the growing instability of those relationships, traditional “divorce” attorneys may be noticing a shift in their practices from “divorce courts” to “juvenile courts” where disputes over child custody and paternity are often litigated between unmarried parents. Divorce attorneys should also be noticing an increasing number of older Americans who are now getting divorced (a phenomenon known as “grey divorce“).

There are unique issues and considerations which must be factored into each of the types of groups we have discussed here in this short blog. Differing relationships and different age groups have unique sets of issues for consideration when there is termination of a relationship, whether it be a marriage or a long-term, non-marital relationship. The involvement of children, in either of these types of relationships, brings about differing issues for each type of relationship.

Each type of relationship (marital and non-marital) brings with itself differing legal rights, legal obligations, and considerations. Rights to participate in medical care for a loved one,  or participate in retirement benefits or receive a share of property from the relationship may well be at issue and dependent upon different rules applied to married and non-married couples.

Attorney William Geary practices solely Family Law in Ohio and is admitted to the Ohio Courts, the Federal Court for the Southern District of Ohio and the Supreme Court of the United States.

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