Marriage and divorce are both common experiences for adults, although both can be challenging. About 90% of people in Western cultures marry by age 50. In the United States, about 50% of married couples divorce, the sixth-highest divorce rate in the world. Subsequent marriages have an even higher divorce rate: 60% of second marriages end in divorce, and 73% of all third marriages end in divorce.
Divorces can be emotionally and financially difficult. They can greatly affect parents as well as the couple's children. According to the United States Census Bureau, both marriage and divorce rates decreased from 2009 to 2019. The marriage rate for 2019 is 16.3 per 1,000 women 15 and older, and the national divorce rate is 7.6.
The average age for couples going through their first divorce is 30 years old. Couples are more or less likely to get divorced based on several factors. Couples married between the ages of 20-25 are 60% likely to get a divorce. Those who wait until they are older than 25 to get married are 24% less likely to get divorced. Those with strong religious beliefs are 14% less likely to get a divorce. The higher attainment of education someone has, the lower their risk of divorce is.
According to a U.S. Census Bureau survey, the top three reasons for divorces are incompatibility (43%), infidelity (28%), and money issues (22%).
Divorce rates consistently spike in March and August every year. Northeastern states tend to have the lowest marriage and divorce rates, while Southern and Western states tend to have the highest marriage and divorce rates.
Below are the states with the highest and lowest divorce rates in the United States. The reason that the rate of divorce per population is so different from the percentage of marriages that end in divorce, and would create two entirely different lists of rankings, is that states see different numbers of marriages. Illinois, for example, has the lowest divorce rate in the country, but less than 65% of people are married. In Idaho and Arkansas, where the divorce rates are higher, over 72% are married.
In this article, rates are calculated based on the number of women who were divorced in 2019 per 1,000 women aged 15 and over.
States with the Highest Divorce Rates
The following states have the highest divorce rates in the United States:
- Arkansas - 10.7
- Oklahoma - 10.4
- Nevada - 10.2
- New Mexico - 10.2
- Kentucky - 10.1
- Wyoming - 10.0
- Delaware - 9.4
- Utah - 9.4
- Kansas - 9.2
- Alabama/Missouri - 9.1
Arkansas has the highest divorce rate of any state of 10.7 divorces per 1,000. Arkansas has one of the youngest average marriage age of any state at 24.8 years for women and 26.3 years for men. Arkansas's divorce rate by age 30 is 19.5%, the highest in the U.S.
The high divorce rate in Nevada is that people get married hastily in Las Vegas without thinking about the long-term commitment of marriage. Additionally, a divorce in Nevada can be finalized in as quickly as ten days.
States with the Lowest Divorce Rates
The following states have the lowest divorce rates in the United States:
- Maine - 4.8
- District of Columbia - 4.8
- South Dakota - 6.0
- Pennsylvania - 6.1
- New York - 6.1
- Illinois - 6.2
- New Jersey - 6.3
- Iowa - 6.3
- Wisconsin - 6.4
- Massachusetts - 6.4
More than half of the states with the lowest divorce rates are located in the northeastern part of the United States. Maine and D.C. are tied for the lowest rate at 4.8.