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50 percent of marriages do not end in divorce

Just about everyone in Colorado has heard the supposed statistic that 50 percent of marriages end in divorce. But this particular piece of conventional wisdom isn't true, and hasn't been for some time. And the divorce rate isn't going up either. In fact, according to a recent news article, it has been declining for about 30 years.

The divorce rate in America hit its high point in the 1970s and early 1980s. Since then it has been going down. Of marriages that began in the 1970s and 1980s, and excluding those in which a spouse died, about 65 percent reached their 15th anniversary. For marriages that began in the 1990s, the figure is about 70 percent. One researcher states that if this trend continues, about two-thirds of today's marriages will not end in divorce.

A number of reasons are given for the decline in divorce over the last few decades. These include people marrying later in life, and the general acceptance of one-parent families, which has greatly reduced the number of shotgun marriages.

These changes in society have not only led to fewer divorces, they have made today's divorces different from those of the past. The rise of two-income households means asset division is more complex. And with two breadwinners becoming the norm, alimony is no longer as important as it was. When alimony is awarded today, it is viewed more as a way to help a spouse get on his or her feet financially than a form of lifelong support. And as more fathers are involved in their children's lives, custody disputes are more complex. Judges don't automatically award custody to the mother as they did in decades past.

For all these reasons, divorces today, especially high asset divorces, tend to be more complex than those of the past. Having a knowledgeable divorce lawyer to help a spouse navigate these complexities is more important than ever.

Source: New York Times, "The Divorce Surge Is Over, but the Myth Lives On," Claire Cain Miller, Dec. 2, 2014

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