The fairy tale wedding is fixed in the psyche of many a young girl: it’s the day that inspires panic and excitement in equal parts. But today, in America – where over half of marriages end in divorce – , more often than not it’s the day that reminds us of what never was. The traditional vow of “till death do us part” is losing its potency as more and more couples file for divorce. We recently took a look at the highest divorce rates around the world, but now we are examining things a little closer to home: the United States was number ten on the list internationally, but within the nation divorce rates vary significantly.
The economy and job opportunities, cost of living and the degree to which a population is religious all contribute to the rates of divorce in a nation – but are there any tricks or tips for keeping your marriage afloat? Daily Infographic recently took a look at the data collected from various sources, and noted some interesting patterns when it comes to happy ever after versus divorce courts. Those in traditionally ‘blue’ states – Democratic states – are less likely to get divorced, as are those above the age of 25, those who have attended college and those whose parents are still married. Unsurprisingly, those working in religion and education had the lowest divorces rates in the country. By contrast, those who smoke, hang out with other divorcees or who work in dance and choreography are most likely to get divorced.
However the most notable statistic from Daily Infographic surrounds the likelihood of divorce becoming a repeat offence: simply put, the more you get divorced, the more likely you are to continue to get divorced in subsequent marriages. 41% of first-time marriages in the United States end in divorce. This figure rises to 60% for the second time around, and a shocking 70% for those on their third try at marital bliss. So much for third time lucky. If you’re thinking of saying “I do” to that someone special then, statistically, you have the best chance of making it in North Dakota, New York, Massachusetts, New Jersey or Hawaii. But what about the worst odds?
10. Washington: 12.5%
One in every eight marriages ends in divorce in Washington state. The reason for this? Of course it’s hard to narrow things down to one overarching cause but the ease with which a divorce can be maintained may certainly be one of them. Until 2013, couples could file for divorce almost as soon as they were married: new legislation means that couples must now wait at least 90 days from the date of their marriage before filing for divorce. The legislation was introduced in the hope that couples would think more carefully about the vow of marriage and perhaps reconcile before jumping to the separation.
9. Tennessee: 12.5%
If you think that 90 days in Washington State is too long to be married to someone who isn’t for you, then consider taking a trip to Tennessee. Here, a divorce can be granted after only 60 days of marriage. However, those seeking a divorce must have been residents in Tennessee for a minimum of 6 months before filing for divorce. The cost to hand in the divorce papers, however, is somewhat higher than the national average: at $302 payable to the state, the financial costs of divorce must also be considered. It should also be noted that as gay marriage is not permitted in the state of Tennessee, the laws around divorce only apply to heterosexual couples.
8. Kentucky: 12.5%
At more than half the price of the filing rates in the state of Tennessee, Kentucky is a bargain for those looking for a divorce. The filing fee here is only $148. But what you save on money you make up for in time. Filing takes a minimum of 180 days to be completed, and as with Tennessee, you must be resident in the state for a minimum of 6 months prior to the divorce. As Kentucky- and indeed Tennessee- traditionally forms part of the more religious states, or the ‘Bible Belt’, in the United States their ranking here may seem surprising. As we did mention however, blue states statistically have lower divorce rates, and Kentucky is most definitely red.
7. Arkansas: 12.5%
Staying in the same region of the United States as our number 8 entry on the list, Arkansas has the same divorce rate as Kentucky, Tennessee and Washington before her. In spite of the high divorce rate in the state, however, it’s not as easy to call it quits as you might think. The state currently has a filing process that takes an incredible 540 days- that’s longer than in any other US state. On the other hand, Arkansas only requires prospective divorcees to be resident in the state for two months prior to filing their papers which is shorter than the stipulated duration of residency for other states which precede it on this list. And the cost? The filing of papers costs $165 paid to that state, but as in all other examples, this does not include any legal fees or asset management.
6. Wyoming: 12.6%
Moving back out west for our next contender and Wyoming appears to have one of the easiest set of guidelines anywhere in the United States. Those filing for divorce need only be resident in Wyoming for a minimum of 2 months prior to filing papers, and it’s a bargain at only $70. The entire process takes a minimum of 80 days which is below the national average. Given that Wyoming’s population is so small (just over 576,000 in 2012) the divorce rate does seem high, but the ease of the divorce process may well be a contributing factor.
5. Vermont: 12.6%
With a population of 608,827, Vermont is another distinctly rural state to make our list. In fact, Vermont is the second least populous state in the US, second only to its predecessor of Wyoming. At the outset we did state that financial stability was a significant factor in the success of a marriage and the financial crisis has hit many rural communities particularly hard. Interestingly, considering the high rate of divorce in Vermont, the conditions around divorce in the state are actually pretty tight: those wishing to obtain a divorce must be resident in the state for one year prior to filing papers, and the filing process will set you back $263 before legal fees. On top of that, the processing time for the state to verify and recognise the divorce can take around 450 days, which – while not as long as in Arkansas – is one of the most inefficient in the country.
4. Oregon: 12.8%
Obtaining a divorce in Oregon is relatively straightforward: you must be residing in the state for a minimum of 6 months, you must submit the papers along with the $260 divorce filing fee and 270 days later- assuming there are no hiccups along the way – you are divorced. The reasons behind such a high level of divorce in the state are however, more worrying. Bloomberg Businessweek ranked the nation’s most unhappy cities and the famously ‘hipster’ city of Portland, Oregon came out on top. Alongside the high divorce rate, the state reported the highest level of depression and the 12th highest level of suicide in the country. It seems a reasonable bet that the breakdown of so many marriages is related to these figures.
3. Oklahoma: 12.9%
Oklahoma is yet another Bible Belt state in which wedded bliss eludes many, and the high level of divorces in the state has plenty of people worried. The odds are against couples in the state: As a red state, divorce is statistically on the rise, and it’s a vicious cycle as divorce also becomes more common as a greater number of couples spend time with others who are divorced. Add to this the fact that the average age of women when marrying in the state is 24.4 (remember those who marry after 25 are less likely to divorce) and the odds – for many – are stacked against them. If you are one of these unfortunate 12.9%, you must be resident in Oklahoma for 6 months and pay the $186 filing fee to process the divorce. It then takes approximately 190 days for the courts to recognise the divorce.
2. Maine: 13.6%
Maine is surrounded by states with some of the lowest divorce rates in the country. Yet, Maine itself stands out as an anomaly, with the second highest divorce rate in the country. Why? One theory put forward by a number of sociologists is that although Maine is firmly a part of New England, she is much poorer than her neighbouring states. As such, third level education is less common. This lower standard of living in terms of education and income makes divorce more likely. Aside from the 6 month residency requirement, divorce in the state is also very straightforward: pay the $120 filing fee, and 60 days later, your marriage is undone.
1. Nevada: 14.2%
Considering the fame – or should that be infamy – that surrounds the many marriage centres (complete with ‘little white church’ facades and Elvis impersonators) in Nevada’s party centre of Las Vegas, a high divorce rate seems almost guaranteed. As easy as it to wed in Nevada – a $60 fee and a ceremony of a couple of minutes – the state has made it equally conveniently easy to undo your “I dos.” Nevada only requires that those filing for divorce be resident in the state for one month and provided you cough up the $289, then 42 days later, you should be marriage free! While of course many choose to get married in Nevada and then divorce elsewhere, the facetious approach to marriage which prevails in Las Vegas may have created a flippant attitude among Nevadans towards their sacred vows.