What Has Led To a Decrease in Divorce Rates Since the 1960s?

Throughout history, marriage has been revered as a sacred vow taken by two people who promise to share their lives together. In years past, a marriage typically only dissolved when one of the spouses died. In the early 19th century, the term “divorce” carried a negative stigma and a couple who sought a divorce was often judged by their community. Thus, most couples that experienced marital troubles usually informally separated or one spouse deserted the other. However, shortly after the Civil War, divorce rates began to increase and continued to do so for a long time. In fact, the time period between the 1960s and late 1970s is referred to as the “divorce revolution,” when divorce rates more than doubled. Eventually divorce rates began to taper off and actually declined by 10 percent during the 1980s. Researchers and demographers speculate that we will not see any drastic upward trends in divorce, like in the 1960s, in the near future due to several factors.

Times Have Changed

One of the reasons why divorce rates may have slightly decreased after the 1970s is due to a variance in marriage age. In the mid-1950s, the average marriage age for couples was around 20 years old. In 1992, the average marriage age for couples rose to 24. In 2011, the average marriage age was about 27 years old for women. Nowadays, more and more people are postponing marriage to pursue an education or a career. Researchers suggest that marrying at a younger age can result in marriage instability.

Another reason for lower divorce rates after the 1970s is the decrease in pre-marital pregnancies. Researchers speculate that many marriages occurred due to pre-marital pregnancies in the 1960s. Nowadays, a couple does not automatically get married because of an unplanned pregnancy. Single mothers are more confident in raising their child without feeling obligated to marry the child’s father.

Cohabitation before marriage has also contributed to lower divorce rates. In the 1960s, cohabitation was less likely and a couple did not live together until they were married. However, these days it is quite common for a couple to move in together prior to marriage. Researchers speculate that relationships often end during the cohabitation stage prior to marriage. Therefore, although relationships may still be ending, they are not ended by divorce.

The Future of Divorce

Currently, according to the American Psychological Association, 40 to 50 percent of marriages end in divorce. Thus, although divorce rates may be slightly lower than what they were in the 1960s, divorce is still quite prevalent.

If you are contemplating filing for divorce in the Illinois area, contact one of our experienced Wheaton divorce attorneys at Sullivan Taylor, Gumina & Palmer, P.C. today. We will help you through the process so that you can move on with your life.