Divorce Problem in the United States

Research has showed that divorce is one of the most challenging social problems in modern American families. The results of different researches also show that about 40-50% of all first marriages and 60% of second marriages in the United States terminate in divorce (Haltzman 54). It is also evident that people who marry at an early age, those with low education and income, and the ones with no religious affiliation are at a higher risk of divorcing than other groups. Alabama and Alaska are the leading states in cases of divorce as it was established by the National Survey of Family Growth (Haltzman 54). Unfortunately, many people have not recognized how rapidly this problem has increased over the years. The problem dates back to 1820s when the first case of divorce was reported (Haltzman 42). There are different factors that have increased divorce rate in the different states, for instance, influence of the media. Currently, there are some groups that have stood up strongly with the aim of addressing the issue. The impacts of divorce are at times painful especially to the children who may live without one of their biological parents.

Divorce from a Historical View

As stated above, the first case of divorce in the United States was reported in 1820s. However, those days divorce was not thought to be a problem. Cases of divorce began rising rapidly in the 1960s. Since then, the number of divorces has been increasing through the years. The main reason for the rapid increase is to do with the changes that have been made on laws dealing with divorce. Divorce is usually addressed at the state level where each state has its own legal restrictions and considerations. The Non-Fault divorce law was drafted by James Hayes of California in 1969. Five years later the law was adopted by 45 states, and in 1985, all the states had adopted the law (Mercer and Marsha 42). After the law was implemented, it was reported that divorce cases in the whole country increased by 250% from 1960 to 1980 (Chandra and Mosher 54). Although, much blame for the increased cases of divorce may be put on the changed laws, the media is still to blame for the same. Many families can own a TV where they see wealthy people, role models and celebrities going through publicized divorces. This has always sent the wrong message that it is okay for divorce. Different religions existing in the United States have different views on divorce. The Roman Catholics hold that marriage is a sacrament, thus, there should be no divorce. They claim that divorce is a secular issue that is adopted by individuals who feel to have a high social status.

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Statistics shows that the United States has the highest number of divorces in the world. In 1975, the statistics showed the divorce rate 4.9 per 1,000 people (Brinig and Douglas 44). This was twice more than the divorce rate of Great Britain. In 1990, it was showed to be 4.7 per 1000 people (Mooney and Knox 32). There are other statisticians who put it that a divorce in the US occurs for every four marriages. Population has been increasing over the years consequently resulting to a bigger number of marriages. As the number of marriages in the country increases, the number of divorces also increases. The research revealed that in 1980s,  50% of the women who divorced remarried; however, this was shown to be changing depending much on the cause of divorce.  Research carried out in 2002, showed that 29% of first marriages of women aged 15-44 ended in divorce or annulment (Mooney and Knox 32). By 2012, it was estimated that all first marriages in the united states where at a 40-50% probability of divorce (Brinig and Douglas 42). This has made divorce be as common as marriage.

Types of Divorces

There are legal restrictions in the U.S. that have to be put in consideration before any divorce is guaranteed. There are two main types of divorce in the U.S. including divorce by mutual consent and divorce for cause. In mutual consent, the demanding party is not supposed to show the proof for a specific cause for dissolving the bond, but rather show mutual agreement to dissolve the bond. It is the widely used way of divorcing whereby the demanding party presents the issue in a court, and then the attorney general makes a ruling. Divorce for cause is complex in a way there must be a specific cause that is usually weighed by a judge (Mercer and Marsha 43). The plaintiff has to present him or herself in a court or use legal representatives. In this type of divorce, the party affected may have to pay some compensation and support payments, for instance, if there are children in that family.

Factors associated with a Higher Risk for Divorce

Some researchers put it clear that marriage in the United States is like a game of chance. There are different factors that have been identified to have a higher risk for divorce. There are people who are usually in a high risk of divorce while others have a low risk. Young age is the main factor associated with high risk of divorce. This means marrying at early ages or while young. The risk of divorce is usually high at  early years of marriage. The risk, however, goes down as years of marriage increase. The average age of marriage is 22 for women and 23 for men (Brinig and Douglas 45). People who marry in more mature ages show more maturity in making marriage decisions and handling different challenges associated with marriage. This has nothing to do with teens as they show much aggressiveness and immaturity in decision making and solving challenges associated with marriage.

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Lack education is another factor that increases the risk of divorce. Investing in education is a strategy that builds a foundation for a better marriage, not just a better job. Graduates from colleges and universities have a lower risk of divorce, because they learn much about life and decision making which they apply in their families leading to peaceful coexistence. There is also a significant probability that graduates will marry their fellow graduates (Mercer and Marsha 40). This makes stronger families than a situation where both partners do not have education. There are some researchers who, however, argue that the pattern is changing and in families where the partners are graduates there is a substantial possibility for divorce. This matter has not been studied well yet, thus, it should be considered for the future research.

Income is closely related to education, and it is also associated with the risk of divorce. Research has showed that individuals who have an annual income of more than  50,000 USD have a lower risk of divorce. People with low income have more stress, and this increases their risk of divorce (Leonard 41). People with a modest income have low stress as they find it easy to solve financially related issues. High income also makes children be satisfied as all their needs are met. This makes bonds in the family to be stronger.

Premarital cohabitation is another factor that is associated with a high risk of divorce. This means living together before marriage, which is said to increase the risk of divorce. The risk is higher for those who live together before marriage with more than one partner. Although, some beliefs hold that it is crucial for couples to live together before marriage so that they can get to know each other better, this becomes a risk for divorce when the couples marry. Research shows that couples who live together before marriage develop more lenient attitudes about divorce than those who do not (Jacobson and Burton 32). The individuals also tend to behave as if they are still not married. Most of them find it hard to cope with life after marrying, thus, they end up in divorce.

Couples who get pregnant or bear children before marriage are also at a higher risk of divorce. This factor has resulted in a big number of divorces in the U.S.; as research shows that a third of children in the country are born to parents who have not married (Knox and Schacht 25). Most of these parents usually separate before the children begin school. In addition, three quarters of the children born before marriage are unplanned. This may force the two parties to marry. In this case, they will have married because of the child rather than from personal interests. This usually increases the risk of divorce.     

Impacts of Divorce

Divorce has different impacts that arise thereafter or in the process of divorcing. Some of the impacts are short term while others are long term. Most of the short terms are usually painful as they may even result to suicide and cause queer behaviors. One of them is disruption of social organization. Divorce, when allowed, becomes an issue of a society, whereby it determines the future of the parties. This usually affects the social structure of the families where the parties start living separately. The most affected by the social disorganization are the children who may end up developing negative attitudes and social fear (Bindley 38). Through divorce, a number of single parent families are raised. Research has showed that children raised in single parent families have a higher risk of developing queer and antisocial behaviors in the family, because they do not learn the role of the other parent. 

Divorce is also a devastating experience as the parties may develop psychological and personality challenges. For instance, most of them feel rejected, misrepresented legally, afraid of living alone and loneliness. This becomes a challenge after divorcing. In most cases, the victims of divorce end up remarrying before the next five years because of the psychological and personality challenges they face. Increased fear may also make the victims not to be economically productive (McLanahan and Gary 43). For children who are in school, it may also become intolerable and finally affect their studies. 

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Divorce may also be a cause of other criminal activities in the society. Cases where one of the partners organizes for his former partner to be murdered are becoming more common. This happens more so in cases where the two are in a fight for material possessions. In other cases, children being kidnapped as their fathers use it as a way of getting them back from their mother. In addition, in cases where the fathers are called upon to provide for the children by law even if they are living with their mother, some usually organize for the children to be murdered so that they can cut down such expenses. Therefore, divorce of parents may turn out to be a significant problem to the children. Children are also harmed emotionally by divorce of their parents. This often occurs in cases where the children are against the divorce. Generally, the separated parties live in fear as they do not know what their ex-partner is planning (Gallagher 27). This makes them put much effort on their personal security unlike when they were in the marriage.

One of the positive sides of diverse is that in some cases, it may lead to peace and relieve from difficulties for both the children and the parents.  Another reason for divorces is domestic violence where the children are forced to live in much fear. Domestic violence harms the victims both psychologically and physically. In such cases, both the parents and the children get relieved by the divorce.


In conclusion, divorce is a killer disease in the United States as the country has the highest divorce rate in the world. As the church put it that the divorce is a secular issue, there is a substantial probability of divorce rate increasing if no measures are put in place. There are many things in divorce that have not being well explained, thus, there is a need of more research in the topic. Most of the impacts of divorce are negative, which clearly shows that divorce is not always the right way to follow. As a matter of fact, divorce should be the last option after the others have failed to work out. In addition, there is a need of educating people on  how to preserve the marriage rather than resort to drastic measures. The government has a role to play, especially through the legal restrictions. If the problem is not addressed, then in the nearby future the number of divorces may equalize with the number of marriages.

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