Do Half of All Marriages REALLY End Up in Divorce?

News 15 January, 2021

Common knowledge supports the idea that half of all marriages end in divorce, but the truth is more complex. According to the American Psychological Association, 40 percent to 50 percent of marriages in the United States end in divorce, but this doesn’t mean that half of all people who marry will get divorced.

Statistics show that the divorce rate has actually been decreasing over the past few decades. According to, the 50 percent figure was true in the past, but the decrease in the divorce rate offers greater longevity for couples who are planning to get married.

The Outlook for Marriage

Couples getting married today have about a75 percent chance of staying together “until death do they part.” The divorce rate often changes based on the couple’s social and financial situation. High-end and fairy-tale weddings between two wealthy parties have a higher than 50 percent risk of divorce.

Second or third marriages also have a higher divorce rate than 50 percent, which often surpasses 75 percent. Psychologically speaking, it’s easier to initiate divorce proceedings after having gone through the process before. Marriages between two divorced parties have extremely high divorce rates.

Ways to Protect Your Marriage

No doubt you’ve heard horror stories about the divorce rate being a 50-50 proposition, which doesn’t lead to confidence. However, there are things you can do before marriage — and during it — to promote marriage success. These include:

  • Keep communications open, and avoid walls of secrecy.
  • Establish clear marriage boundaries, and try to limit situations where one marriage partner might be susceptible.
  • Maintain situational awareness in difficult situations when someone flirts with your spouse, and bring the matter to their attention.
  • Recognize risky situations — such as dancing with other people at parties or attending a party where alcohol is served copiously.
  • Check out the resources at gov for protecting your marriage and enhancing your children’s welfare.

Consider the Effects of Divorce

Divorce can cause a series of problems that have little to do with the actual marriage. Divorce statistics don’t reflect the social, economic, and child-raising problems. Financial issues are often involved because it’s expensive to end a marriage and establish two homes.

According to substantial research, even “good” divorces can cause psychological, behavioral and academic problems among the children of divorce. However, there is also evidence that removing children from a toxic home environment can affect children in positive ways.

Alternatives to Divorce

Depending on your individual circumstances, it might be better to seek an alternative to divorce. Divorce and separation are both expensive, and dragging kids into the process can create lifelong psychological problems. Family counseling can often help in many cases, and divorce alternatives include legal separation, trial separation, divorce mediation, and annulment.

A trial separation period can answer your questions about whether you can afford to live apart. You might decide to stay together for entirely practical reasons. If things break down irreparably, you can always pursue divorce.

Knowing When to Pursue Divorce

It’s not always better to stay married for the sake of the kids or for other practical reasons. The decision to divorce never comes easily, but there are circumstances that demand it — like spousal abuse, avoidance of contact or hiding one’s true self from a spouse. People change, and divorce is often a blessing.

Hiring an experienced family lawyer can help anyone negotiate the pitfalls of divorce, and an attorney is recommended when one or both spouses have significant financial profiles. You should probably consult an attorney before getting married to discuss complex financial issues.