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Previous divorce data may have been masking a rising trend of divorce

Conventional wisdom holds that the U.S. divorce rate peaked late in the 1970s and has been on a general pattern of decline ever since. But is this assumption true?

According to new research, marital instability may be just as prominent as it ever was. When demographic and lifestyle factors are included in the analysis, the divorce rate may even be higher than it was three decades ago.

Odds of divorce among older Americans have skyrocketed, according to study

Researchers at the University of Minnesota challenged some of the longstanding assumptions about the divorce rate in their 2014 paper published in the scholarly journal Demography. The authors of the study said that previous divorce data was not complete; it was only in 2008 that the American Community Survey from the U.S. Census Bureau added an array of divorce-related questions, and even this data has its flaws. But, by taking a deeper look considering the aging U.S. population and changing ways of life, the researchers established that the risk of divorce is as high as ever.

Previous studies have shown that divorce risk appeared to increase for young couples until around age 25 before declining steadily among older couples. However, while this may have held true in the past, the divorce rate has been growing at an unprecedented pace among older couples in recent decades.

"There has been a threefold increase in the divorce rate of people aged between 60 and 65 since 1990," Steve Ruggles, director of the Minnesota Population Center and one of the authors of the study, told Time.com. "And for those older than 65, the increase is fivefold."

While the raw divorce data does appear to show that divorce rates for younger couples have been on the decline, the study also pointed to the increasing numbers of young people who are living together in a marriage-like relationship, but are choosing not to actually tie the knot. When these types of relationships end it can be tantamount to divorce in many ways, but the ends of such relationships are not always tracked in family life and divorce questionnaires.

The study concluded that when age-standardized, the divorce rate is actually at an all time high, growing by 40 percent since 1980.

Contact a family law attorney if you are facing the prospect of divorce

If this study teaches us anything, it is that statistical data should be taken with a grain of salt. But, it is also a powerful reminder that if you are facing divorce, you are not alone. The fact that your marriage is ending is not a reflection of failure on your part, but a reality of life in a time when there is simply more mobility in long-term romantic relationships.

If you are facing divorce, it is important to end things on favorable legal terms. An experienced divorce lawyer can help you get what you need in order to make a successful transition back into single life. Get in touch with a family law attorney today to get help with your divorce.


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