If you are facing a divorce, the last thing you need to worry about is being a statistic. And the fact is that divorce statistics – other than general trends – are very difficult to pin down in exact terms because every divorce is unique to the exact circumstances and people involved.
However, having a better understanding of divorce in the United States may provide you with a better understanding of your own divorce proceedings.
Regardless of your situation, reaching out for the professional legal guidance of an experienced Killeen divorce attorney is always in your best interest.
The good news is that divorce in the United States has been trending downward for at least the last 20 years. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) shares the following primary statistics that help back this up:
Marriages in this country have steadily decreased over the last 21 years from 8.2 per 1,000 total population to 5.1.
The divorce rate 21 years ago was 4.0 per 1,000 population, but that rate is currently 2.3 per 1,000 population.
In other words, both marriage and divorce are on the decline. The United States Census Bureau forwards additional statistics that help us better understand the CDC’s numbers. Consider the following data:
For those who are at least 20 years old and have been married at least once, 43 percent of the women and 33 percent of the men have also been divorced.
For those who are between the ages of 55 and 64 and have been married at least once – whether women or men – the rate holds steady at 43 percent.
Ultimately, the Census Bureau finds that, while both marriage and divorce rates have decreased over the past decades (according to the most recent data available), divorces have decreased more significantly. Consider the following:
In 2009, there were 17.6 marriages per 1,000 people, and in 2019, there were 16.3 marriages per 1,000 people.
In 2019, there were 9.7 divorces per 1,000 people, and in 2019, there were 7.6 divorces per 1,000 people – representing a more considerable decline.
The Divorce Rate
While we hear a lot about the divorce rate, there really is no definitive percentage of marriages that end in divorce. In the end, there are too many variables to account for to calculate a blanket percentage that applies across the board.
We do know that statistics overall provide a range of divorce risk that spreads from about 40 to 50 percent, which means that married couples are more likely to stay married than they are to divorce.
Additionally, the median length of time that marriages lasted 10 years ago was 19 years, but today, this measurement is closer to 20 years. Ultimately, the Institute for Family Studies (IFS) reports that divorce rates have been trending downward for a while now and have recently enjoyed some record lows.
Women Tend to Initiate Divorce
It is interesting to note the American Sociological Society Association’s finding that women initiate divorce 69 percent of the time. While many postulate that this means women are more attuned to relationship problems, this is not supported by the fact that women are not more likely than men to initiate breakups when they are in non-married heterosexual couples.
Marriage is nothing if not a commitment, so it may come as no surprise that one of the most common reasons voiced when it comes to divorce is a lack of commitment. Often, however, both spouses point to the other as not having fully committed to the relationship.
While many people think of extramarital affairs when it comes to a lack of commitment, this category is actually much broader, including relationship issues such as lack of communication or lack of a firm commitment to shared financial goals.
Ultimately, every marriage that ends does so for a variety of personal reasons that are unique to the family involved, which makes categorizing the reasons for divorce as challenging as pinning down the divorce rate.
If you need a divorce, what matters most is addressing your unique concerns, protecting your parental and financial rights, and seeking terms that work for you and your children. In this pursuit, it’s always wise to work closely with an experienced Killeen divorce attorney.
Your child custody arrangements will guide the schedule by which you and your ex divide your time with your shared children, which makes it a critical determination. In Texas, child custody is grouped into both physical custody – or the parenting time schedule – and legal custody.
Physical Custody or Parenting Time
Physical custody sets your parenting time schedule, and Texas courts always make these determinations in light of the children’s best interests. Toward this end, the court takes the following factors and others into account:
Each parent’s preferences
Each child’s reasonable preferences – as deemed appropriate
How involved each parent has been in caring for the children to date
Each parent’s level of commitment in terms of continuing to support the other’s ongoing relationship with the kids
Each child’s needs, including any special needs, and each parent’s ability to meet these needs
Whether domestic violence or child abuse is a concern
Any other factors the court deems applicable
When it comes to parenting time, the basic options include one of you becoming the primary custodial parent and providing the children with their primary home or both of you dividing your overnights with the kids more equally.
As parents, we have to make a wide range of important decisions on behalf of our children that guide their upbringing. Legal custody determines how you and your ex will address this responsibility. You have several options, including the following arrangements:
Continuing to make these decisions together the way you did while married
Continuing to make these decisions together but affording one of you the power to break a tie if you cannot reach an agreement
Splitting this responsibility between you according to the kind of decision that needs to be made
Granting one of you sole legal custody
The following list explains the kinds of decisions at stake in legal custody:
Decisions about your children’s healthcare
Decisions about your children’s extracurriculars
Decisions about your children’s religious education
The decisions that parents need to make on a moment-by-moment basis remain the responsibility of whomever the kids are with at the time. If a decision needs to be made in the face of an emergency, the available parent will be called upon to do so.
Along with child custody, there is child support to determine. The State of Texas requires parents to support their children financially, and when the parents are divorced, child support is employed to help balance this support between both parents.
Consider these primary factors that affect the determination of child support:
Each parent’s ability to earn
Each parent’s age and overall physical and mental health
Each parent’s separate assets
How many overnights the children spend with each parent
While many factors go into the calculation process, the parent who earns more typically has the child support obligation – even when the parenting time schedule is shared evenly.
The Division of Marital Property
Every divorcing couple must address the division of marital property. In Texas, the assets that you come to own while you are married are considered marital, and this is true regardless of who made the purchase or who signed for it. The only exceptions are gifts and inheritances that either of you receives in your name alone.
These marital assets – or their overall value – must be divided between you and your divorcing spouse in a manner that is deemed fair given the relevant circumstances, which include factors like the following:
The contributions each of you made to the marital estate, including contributions in the form of taking care of the home and the children
Each spouse’s separate assets
Wrongdoing that the court considers relevant
Each spouse’s earning power and current income
Anything else the court finds applicable
While separate assets will remain the separate property of the spouse to whom they belong, it’s important to note both the following considerations:
For an asset to be considered separate, the spouse to whom the asset belongs must keep it separate throughout the marriage, which can prove challenging.
Any increase in the value of the separate asset will be considered marital and will need to be addressed as such. Common examples include retirement accounts and other financial tools.
Alimony only factors into those divorces in which there is a considerable discrepancy between the divorcing spouses’ financial circumstances.
For example, if one spouse is not able to continue supporting themself at the same standard of living – or near the same standard of living – they enjoyed while married and the other has the financial means to help, alimony may be ordered.
Generally, alimony is intended to provide the recipient with the financial assistance necessary to gain the education or job skills necessary to become more financially independent.
The Court’s Role
The court will need to sign off on the terms of your divorce even if you and your divorcing spouse are able to resolve every applicable term yourselves. This is part of the finalization process, and the court is almost certain to rubberstamp your terms.
However, if there are any terms that have stalled your negotiations and that you are unable to resolve, you may need the court to intervene. At this point, a divorce becomes contested, and you and your divorcing spouse give up your decision-making power in the matter.
Before you get to this point, you have several options to help you resolve the remaining terms:
Continuing to negotiate between yourselves while looking to your respective divorce attorneys to help you guard your rights throughout the process
Allowing your respective divorce attorneys to negotiate on behalf of each of your rights and best interests – if your ability to communicate freely with one another has broken down to the point that open negotiations are no longer possible
Heading to mediation, where a professional mediator works in the capacity of a neutral third party to help you and your soon-to-be ex – along with your respective divorce attorneys – explore your best options from a fresh perspective
It’s important to recognize that, even if you go to court for your divorce, you retain the right to resolve the remaining terms until the court rules on the matter. Simply scheduling a court date can motivate some otherwise stubborn spouses to dig a bit deeper during negotiations – rather than leaving these very personal matters in the hands of the court.
How Your Attorney Can Help
Divorce tends to be a very tumultuous process. In fact, setting your divorce priorities and continuing to focus on them can be exceptionally difficult. Your trusted Killeen divorce attorney will help in all the following important ways:
Succinctly establishing what your marital assets are and drawing a firm line regarding your separate assets
Skillfully advocating for your parental rights and for a parenting time schedule that honors these rights and works for you and your children
Helping you better understand the divorce process and helping you make carefully considered decisions that bolster your rights throughout
Keeping your divorce moving forward smoothly
Skillfully negotiating with your spouse’s divorce attorney for fair terms that you can both live with