What’s the most common reason for divorce?


What do most people say was the primary reason for their divorce? We have some answers. Lack of commitment, infidelity, conflict, communication, grown apart, married too young, financial problems, substance abuse and domestic violence. Here, we’re talking about common personal reasons for divorce, which may or may not also be legal grounds for divorce depending on the laws of your state.

Top Reasons for Divorce Statistics

Each state’s vital records division maintains records and statistics for all births, deaths, marriages, and divorces occurring within its territory. National divorce statistics are compiled by the U.S. Census Bureau and CDC. The CDC’s 2019 provisional U.S. divorce rate is 2.7 per 1,000 population.

For local divorce numbers, the Tennessee Department of Health lists rates by county. Tennessee’s 2019 divorce number is 3.5 per 1,000 people. At the two extremes, Roane County’s divorce rate is the lowest at 1.1 per 1,000. While Madison County is the highest at 9.8 per 1,000.

There are numerous statistics available online from varying sources.  Here we have, somewhat informally, summarized the various sources and combined their results.  The results adhere to what we have observed over the last 25 years of practicing family law.  Also note, almost everyone we know seems to have more than just one reason for divorcing.  Mostly, there is a combination of at least two or three.

What is the reason for the high percentage of divorces?

Top Reasons for Divorce Statistics

Understanding why so many marriages are ending in divorce or who gets divorced the most starts with the risk factors. Certain marital circumstances are known contributors to the current divorce rate:

  • Marrying young. Premarital pregnancy.
  • Cohabiting before marriage. Having divorced parents.
  • Being previously divorced.

So what are the most common reasons given for divorce?

When divorced spouses look back on what happened to end the marriage, their answers are surprisingly consistent.  These are the most frequently stated reasons for divorce.

  1. There was lack of commitment.

Lack of commitment to the marriage can occur very gradually. Almost imperceptibly. Sometimes divorce results from one spouse being more actively engaged in the relationship than the other and wishing the other spouse had worked harder to save the marriage.

Other times divorce results because one spouse wants to retreat and be a homebody. A loss of commitment can follow a specific event, too. Which brings us to the next cause of divorce.

  1. Infidelity.

In a struggling marriage, a spouse’s extramarital affair could prove to be the pivotal event that causes divorce.

However, many family lawyers will tell you that infidelity is a symptom, not a cause. If the willingness is there, then infidelity can be worked out along with whatever problems led to it.

  1. A common cause of divorce is excessive conflict.

Some spouses constantly argue. They’re unable to calmly resolve conflicts. This behavior may become more frequent and intense with time and is closely associated with the next common cause of divorce.

  1. Lack of effective communication.

Communication is everything in a marriage. When spouses are simply incapable of talking to each other in a positive, effectual, meaningful way that benefits the relationship, then the marriage is in trouble.

  1. Growing apart is another cause.

What’s the most common reason for divorce?

Divorced spouses often say they simply grew apart over the years. Growing apart is often associated with a lack of intimacy and affection. Sometimes, spouses become incompatible. The trust, sympathy, and mutual respect they once had for each other erodes and fades away.

  1. Marrying too young is a common cause of divorce.

Even after premarital counseling, most young people lack the maturity to fully comprehend what they’re signing onto. Ask any divorced spouse over 30, marriage is replete with transitions. People change and so do their circumstances. Many divorced spouses wish they’d dated longer, been engaged longer, and gotten to know their partners better before tying the knot.

  1. Financial problems are another cause of divorce.

Money problems often weigh heavily on a marriage causing excessive, sustained tension. The stress of this can permeate every aspect of daily life. Financial stresses sometimes stem from one spouse’s handling of the money, despite ample resources in the household. Living in a state of constant distress could result in the next common cause of divorce.

  1. Substance abuse.

Substance abuse is especially problematic when treatment or therapy was rejected or when little or no improvement was made despite efforts to stop the destructive behavior.

  1. Domestic violence can cause divorce.

It doesn’t matter whether the abuse was verbal, physical, emotional, psychological, or all of the above. Domestic violence can end a relationship.

Other frequently stated causes of divorce are health problems, childlessness, lack of support from family members, and religious differences.

Do you feel you’ve reached the end of your rope? Are you fed up?  Well, you’re not alone.

The most common last-straw events are cheating, substance abuse, and domestic violence.  If you’re struggling in your marriage, seek help from an experienced and qualified mental health professional.  Don’t wait until your marriage is in ashes.

Counseling takes time, but it’s worth the effort to know you have tried everything to save your marriage.  The benefits of counseling are always helpful in making smart decisions.

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