February 16, 2015

Infographic: Divorce Statistics

Read more about Marriage Statistics

It's not a pretty topic, but divorce is a common enough event that it's worth thinking about for everyone, particularly couples considering marriage. After all, about half of first marriages end in divorce, and the results can be messy for all those involved. Especially messy is anything related to finances.

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Infographic: Divorce in America
Infographic: Divorce in America © CreditDonkey

As this infographic shows, divorce is far more common for couples who marry younger than age 20 than those who wait until they’re over 25. It’s also more common for those who have children already — or one on the way — when they tie the knot. There are complicated demographic issues behind those numbers, but they point to the likelihood that people may make unwise moves when they’re young or when they feel pressured to make a major life decision.

Before the Wedding Bells

What can couples do before the wedding (or even the engagement) to make the marriage more durable? Many religious traditions call for some type of counseling where they can talk through big issues that might come up. Non-religious couples can do the same thing, either through formal sessions with a counselor or by going through a list of questions with each other.

Seven-Year Itch

The statistics bear the old phrase out — the typical divorce happens in the eighth year of marriage, which means things likely got particularly rough in year seven. But it might be best for couples to start thinking about their future earlier than that. Marriage counselors will often say that many of their clients come to them too late. It’s better, they say, to nip brewing resentments and disagreements in the bud than to wait until they become insurmountable.

Thinking of the Children

For any couple with kids, the biggest worry about seeking a divorce is probably how it will affect the children. There’s no doubt that parents splitting up can be hard on kids. Then again, so can having parents who stay together but can’t get along. Fortunately, many resources, like the Divorce Center in Massachusetts and Kids’ Turn in California, are available for couples who want to reduce the impact of their split on their children and continue working together as parents even after divorce.

Related: New Moms Statistics

The Money Question

How assets are divided up in a divorce depends on state laws and individual circumstances, including whether a couple has a prenuptial agreement. The legal costs of actually getting a divorce vary a great deal as well, with some states allowing no-fault divorces and others demanding more complicated proceedings to show some wrongdoing by one spouse. Then, there’s the cost of living post-divorce, which often involves two households operating on incomes that previously supported just one. There’s no question that divorce is costly, and anyone contemplating it should get ready to handle a new financial situation.

An obvious first step toward getting your finances in order is paying off debt, which will provide flexibility in your new life and could help severe ties with your soon-to-be ex. If there’s some personal debt you just can’t shake, think about transferring your balance to a credit card with a lower interest rate.

Tip: How to Get Out of Debt

Guidance Needed

Of course, anyone considering divorce has his or her own particular circumstances, and this article is no substitute for professional, legal, credit, or financial advice. For that, it’s best to consult an experienced divorce attorney who can guide you through the process.

(Research by Kelly; Graphic Design by Santosh; Graphic Editing by Maria; Writing by Livia; Editing by Sarah, Additional Editing by Dana )

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