Highlights of a new report from the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS)

Advance Report of Final Divorce Statistics, 1989 and 1990

Monthly Vital Statistics Report, Vol. 43, No. 9, Supplement

For Release April 18, 1995

Data highlights

  • The divorce rate in the United States has remained fairly stable since 1988, and provisional data for 1993 show the rate to be 4.6 divorces per 1,000 population. The divorce rate had risen steadily from 2.5 in 1966 to a peak of 5.3 in both 1979 and 1981. The rate declined in the early and mid-1980’s and leveled off at about 4.7 during 1988-93.
  • First marriages ending in divorce lasted an average of 11 years for both men and women, while remarriages ending in divorce lasted an average of 7.4 years for men and 7.1 years for women. Nationally, all marriages ending in divorce lasted an average of 9.8 years, ranging from a duration of 8.2 years in Alaska to 11.6 years in Maryland.
  • Divorce numbers are highest among men aged 30-34 years and women aged 25-29 years. However, the divorce rate is highest among men aged 20-24 years and women aged 15-19 years.
  • The average age of men divorcing after the first marriage was 35 years; for women the average age was 33 years. The average age for men divorcing from their second marriage was 42 years; for women it was age 39 years. For the thrice or more divorced, the average age of men was 46.5 years; for women it was age 42 years.
  • The largest proportion of divorces were granted to men and women who had married between the ages of 20-24 years. First-time male divorcees on average were 24 years of age when they married; for women, the average age was 22 years.
  • In 27 reporting States and the District of Columbia, young white persons aged 15-24 years had substantially higher divorce rates than young black persons the same age. Among people aged 25 years and over, the black population had higher divorce rates than the white population.
  • Divorce rates ranged from 2.7 in Massachusetts to 10.8 in Nevada. Because of differences in reporting between States, there is no means for accurately ranking all 50 States.
  • Divorce had varying impact on family structure from State-to-State. A greater percent of children were involved in divorces in Nebraska and Utah than in other reporting States. Sixty-four percent of divorces in Nebraska and 63 percent in Utah involved at least one child. Meanwhile, the greatest percent of divorces involving no children occurred in the District of Columbia and Maryland.
  • In 19 reporting States, 72 percent of custody cases were awarded to the wife, and 9 percent of custody cases were awarded to the husband. Joint custody was awarded in 16 percent of the cases.

For more information, please contact NCHS, Office of Public Affairs (301) 458-4800, or via e-mail at paoquery@cdc.gov.

Advance Report of Final Divorce Statistics, 1989 and 1990. Vol. 43, No. 9 supplement. 32 pp. (PHS) 95-1120 [PDF – 247 KB]