You may have heard that the divorce rate is falling in the United States, and that’s true. In the 1960s and 70s, there was a massive increase in divorce cases — due largely to the divorce process becoming easier However, the rate is slowing dropping.
The divorce laws have basically stayed the same in the past few decades, in the sense that no-fault divorce is still allowed. The stigma surrounding divorce has largely changed so that people don’t see it as negatively. So why is the rate falling?
More couples are choosing to co-habitate
As one sociology professor put it, couples “have to get married” to get divorced. This may sound obvious, but it sheds light on the fact that a lot of couples just do not get married. They cohabitate.
The stigma around cohabitation has also changed. How many couples got married just out of high school or college in the 1960s because they were expected to? Now they’re more likely to spend a few years living together without getting married. These couples may still break up, just as they would before, but that wouldn’t be a divorce. Thus, the prevalence of divorce itself is less common, even if couples are essentially going through the same process.
People are also getting married later in life. This has been shown to make marriage more stable, so waiting to marry decreases the odds of divorce.
Even if you’re not married, you may have shared assets or children together. Breaking up still carries some important legal questions, so make sure you know where you stand if you decide to go your separate ways.