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How Common Is Divorce?

How Common Is Divorce?

Divorce is very common in Utah, United States with almost half of all marriages ending in divorce or permanent separation. Commitment has been shown to be a clear factor in why some couples stay together. There are times when divorce is necessary, but those in other circumstances often later indicate they wish they would have tried harder before divorcing

What Percentage of Marriages End In Divorce?

Researchers estimate that 40%-50% of all first marriages will end in divorce or permanent separation and about 60% – 65% of second marriages will end in divorce. Although divorce has always been a part of American society, divorce has become more common in the last 50 years. Changes in the laws have made divorce much easier. The highest divorce rates ever recorded were in the 1970s and early 1980s. Divorce rates have decreased since that time, but still remain high.

What Factors Are Associated With A Higher Risk For Divorce?

Over the years, researchers have determined certain factors that put people at higher risk for divorce: marrying young, limited education and income, living together before a commitment to marriage, premarital pregnancy, no religious affiliation, coming from a divorced family, and feelings of insecurity.
• Young age: Marriage at a very young age increases the likelihood of divorce, especially in the early years of marriage.
• Less education: Research shows that those with at least some college education (vs. high school or not finishing high school) have a lower chance of divorce.
• Less income: Having a modest income can help couples avoid stress that may lead to divorce.
• Premarital cohabitation: Couples who live together before marriage appear to have a higher chance of divorce if they marry, but the risk is mostly true for those who have cohabited with multiple partners. A common belief is that living together before marriage provides an opportunity to get to know each other better, but research has found those that live together before marriage have already developed some leniency towards divorce. This leniency towards divorce is what leads the couple to become high risk. However, there are some caveats to these findings. Research suggests couples who get engaged and then move in together are no longer at a high risk for future divorce. Their commitment towards marriage reduces the risk of a future divorce.

• Premarital childbearing and pregnancy: Childbearing and pregnancy prior to marriage significantly increase the likelihood of future divorce.
• No religious affiliation: Researchers have estimated those with a religious affiliation compared to those who belong to no religious group are less likely to divorce.
• Parents’ divorce: Unfortunately, experiencing the divorce of your parents doubles your risk for divorce. And if your spouse also experienced their parents’ divorce than your risk for divorce triples. This does not mean you are predisposed to having your marriage end in divorce, only that you may need to be more aware of your marriage trends and work harder for a successful marriage.

Most Common Reasons People Give For Their Divorce

Research has found the most common reasons people give for their divorce are lack of commitment, too much arguing, infidelity, marrying too young, unrealistic expectations, lack of equality in the relationship, lack of preparation for marriage, and abuse. Many of the common reasons people give for their divorce can fall under the umbrella of no longer being in love. Research suggests the nature of love changes over time. If you feel as if you have fallen out of love, marriage counseling may help offer a new perspective that will help you rediscover that love.

Why is commitment so important?

Commitment as “having a long-term view of the marriage that helps us not get overwhelmed by the problems and challenges we experience day to day.” Having a personal dedication to your marriage involves a real desire to be together with one’s spouse in the future and having an identity as a couple. When there is a high level of commitment in a relationship, we feel safer and are willing to give more. Developing this level of commitment can take time as you learn to change your mindset. When your level of commitment seems to be fading it can be helpful to remember the good times in your relationship. Some couples are faced with very difficult situations, such as abuse, infidelity, or addictions. Each of these situations deserves special consideration:

Abuse And Divorce

When there is a pattern of abuse in a marriage or in a family, not surprisingly there is evidence that ending the marriage is usually best for all involved. While some spouses are able to end and overcome abuse, abused spouses and children are usually better off when the marriage is ended. Sometimes, ending a marriage with an abusive spouse can be dangerous, however. It is probably a good idea to work with a domestic violence shelter in your community to help you end the relationship safely.

Infidelity And Divorce

Most Americans say they would end their marriage if their spouse cheated on them. However, many couples (50-60%) who have dealt with infidelity in their marriages find the will and strength to stay together. Also, consider getting help from a well-trained marriage counselor and/or a dedicated religious leader, who will help you heal, decide what to do, and repair the marriage, if you decide to stay together. Recovering from infidelity can be very difficult to do without some help.

Addictions And Divorce

Addiction can come in many forms, such as alcohol, drugs, gambling, or pornography. In some cases, the addict can recover and the marriage can be repaired. In other cases, it is best for the spouse and children to separate from the addict to see if progress can be made. Each person has unique circumstances and must decide what is right for her or him. Again, consider turning to a trained professional and/or a religious leader to help you know how best to handle your situation.

Extramarital Affairs And Divorce

According to a report published by AARP, infidelity still plays a significant role in why people file for divorce. It is reported that about 17 percent of divorces are caused by one or both partners being unfaithful. However, usually there is an underlying reason that causes a spouse to cheat, including anger, resentment, having varied interests, growing apart, or unequal sexual appetites.

Physical Appearance And Divorce

Physical attraction to your partner can predict marital satisfaction in the long run. According to a recent study, conducted longitudinally, men reported feeling happy in their marriage if they perceived their wives as being attractive, with their satisfaction increasing over time. Women reported feeling about the same over time, without their satisfaction increasing or decreasing. For men, their spouse’s physical appearance can act as a future predictor for successful or unsuccessful marital outcomes.

Money And Divorce

In fact, lack of money can often cause marital problems to flare into a divorce filing. A married couple facing financial difficulties is often under a lot of stress, which in turn can lead to constant arguing and lack of communication. Couples who don’t see eye to eye on spending habits or that are in relationships where one spouse controls the finances are at risk for a divorce, with an estimated 40% of divorced couples noting this as the main reason for ending the relationship.

Lack of Communication And Divorce

Healthy communication is one of the most important ingredients when it comes to a successful marriage. If one or both partners are not willing to work through their communication issues, marital satisfaction declines as both partners’ needs are no longer being met. Once parties stop communicating effectively, marital troubles that can lead to divorce may not be too far behind.

Incompatibility And Divorce

Nothing stays the same. Over time people grow, develop, and change. Around 55 percent of divorced couples cite growing apart from their spouse as their primary reason for ending the marriage. When partners’ lives, interests, or dreams become incompatible, the marriage can begin to suffer as a result. Divorce Magazine reports that incompatibility is often the reason people end up filing for divorce. Incompatibility can also lead to a spouse seeking interaction with a person of the opposite sex, which can lead to infidelity.


Unhappiness lies at the root of a high number of divorces. Sometimes individuals don’t realize that love is not enough to keep you happy. Some people get married and then realize that they are not cut out for marriage and what can come with that type of lifestyle. Research states that marital dissatisfaction is one of the top predictors for divorce.

Parenting Style Differences

Parenting is an even larger undertaking than getting married. Once children come into the picture, priorities change, lifestyles change, and for sure sleeping habits are impacted. Differences in parenting style is a major reason couples seek divorce. For example, imagine one parent believes in letting a child cry and the other believes in a more hands-on approach. Unless the parties can communicate and work out a common solution, issues like this could lead to a split.

Different Perceptions of Equality

A couple can marry with the expectation that both will share equally in the amount of work to run a household, as well as for expenses and financial decisions but in reality one spouse ends up in control or expected to do more than another. Or they can marry with an expectation based on their culture or religion that the division of labor and responsibilities will be unequal at the outset. Over time this can lead to anger and resentment by the spouse who feels they are treated unequally. If the couple cannot communicate and follow through with a respectful and fair distribution of labor and responsibilities for their home, finances and child rearing tasks, this can lead to a broken marriage and divorce.

Lack of Intimacy

Marriages were sex becomes rare or nonexistent are likely to end in divorce. Marriages can become sexless for several reasons, such as the partners growing emotionally apart, too busy and tired from work and caring for children or for medical issues, mental health problems and physical disabilities. Without counseling, marriages can fall apart without regular physical and emotional intimacy. About 15 to 20% of marriages in the U.S. are “sexless” and about 50% of these results in a divorce.

Medical Problems

One spouse suffering from a serious or debilitating illness can often lead to divorce. In addition to a health problem causing problems for physical intimacy, it can lead to substance abuse, depression and anxiety, as well as financial issues like debt. More often than not, research has found that it is an illness suffered by the wife that leads to divorce. A wife with a stroke and heart disease in particular appear to significantly increase the chance of divorce.

Religious Differences

Almost half of all marriages in the Utah are between interfaith couples. If these couples do not seriously discuss prior to marriage how religion will be handled in child rearing and other serious life events, divorce can result. Surveys have found that couples in interfaith marriages are at a risk of divorce that’s three times higher than non-interfaith couples.

Leading Causes of Divorce In Utah

When you see problems on the horizon within your marriage, it is best not to wait until they are beyond fixing to address them. If you review the most common reasons for divorce, many are issues that can be resolved if both parties are open to working on them. Finding appropriate marriage counselors or support groups can be a great way to begin working through marital issues that continue to crop up. Of course, in situations where violence and abuse are present, the safety of the victimized spouse and any children should be the primary concern. If you do decide to get divorced, take time to process your emotions and seek support if needed.

Utah Grounds for Divorce

In all divorce cases, couples must provide the court with a legal ground to terminate the marriage. Although there are different ways to apply for dissolution of marriage (divorce), every case requires the applicant to list a specific reason for the request. Some states allow parties to file for a fault divorce, which is where you claim that your spouse’s behavior during the marriage caused the relationship to fail. Acceptable grounds for fault divorce vary depending on where you live, but the most common include adultery, drug or alcohol abuse, or abandonment. All states permit couples to request a no-fault divorce, meaning that neither spouse is individually responsible for the breakup. Typically, no-fault divorces are based on irreconcilable differences. In these cases, couples need to prove to the court that despite your best efforts, there are too many issues in the relationship for reconciliation to be possible. The most appealing factor of no-fault divorce is that spouses can ask the court to terminate their marriage without the need for finger pointing or mud-slinging. Many states also offer a divorce based on a separation for a specific period of time.

Utah and No-Fault Divorce

If you’re not interested in airing your dirty laundry in a public courtroom setting, no-fault divorce is probably the best option for ending your relationship. Utah courts understand that many people, primarily parents, want to preserve what’s left of their bond after a divorce, so it allows couples to pursue a divorce using its no-fault procedures. For divorcing couples to be successful, the parties will need to explain to the court that their marriage has suffered irreconcilable differences. Judges don’t usually make it a habit of questioning the motives behind a no-fault divorce, so if you are willing to testify, under oath, that you and your spouse can’t work things out, a judge will grant your divorce. If you can’t prove irreconcilable differences to the court, you can also apply for a no-fault divorce if you and your spouse have lived separate and apart from each other for a minimum of three years.

Your Spouse’s Bad Behavior May Help You Get a Divorce

No-fault divorce is by far the most popular method of ending a marriage, but for some couples, it’s not the right choice. As an alternative, Utah gives couples the option of petitioning the court for a divorce based on a spouse’s bad conduct during the marriage.
The acceptable reasons for a fault divorce in Utah include:
• impotency at the time of the marriage
• adultery by either party
• willful desertion for more than one year
• habitual drunkenness
• conviction of a felony
• cruel treatment to the extent of causing bodily injury or great mental distress, and
• willful neglect to provide the standard necessities of life.
Other Requirements for Divorce
Like most states, Utah has a residency requirement that you must meet before you can file for divorce. Couples must demonstrate that the filing party has been a resident, continuously, for a minimum of three months. Additionally, there is a 90-day waiting period before the court can hold a hearing for your divorce. This waiting period was created by legislators to provide couples with a “cooling off” period, which may or may not assist the spouses in making meaningful, divorce-related issues, like property division and spousal support. Either party can ask the court to waive this waiting period. The person requesting a waiver would need to file a motion (request) with the court and provide the judge with extraordinary circumstances for their application. Utah law is unambiguous that if a divorcing couple has minor children from the marriage, the court can’t finalize the divorce until each parent has attended a mandatory course for divorcing parents and presented a certificate of completion to the judge. The court can, on its own or if one parent makes a motion, waive this requirement, but this doesn’t typically happen unless the couple can prove that the class isn’t necessary, appropriate, or feasible.

Divorce Lawyer

When you need legal help with a divorce, child support, child custody, asset division in divorce or modification of a divorce decree in Utah, please call Ascent Law LLC for your free consultation (801) 676-5506. We want to help you.

Michael R. Anderson, JD

Ascent Law LLC
8833 S. Redwood Road, Suite C
West Jordan, Utah
84088 United States

Telephone: (801) 676-5506

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