Divorce rates remain about 50 percent for first-time marriages in the United States, with approximately 3.5 to 5 percent of all marriages ending every year.  Additionally, as reported in divorcestatistics.org, the divorce rate increases to over 60% for second marriages and over 70% for third marriages.  Sadly, two out of three marriages ending in divorce in the United States include families with minor children in the home. (Source: divorceguide.com)

Top Reasons for Divorce

There are four primary reasons cited for marriages ending in divorce: money, adultery, abuse and “irreconcilable differences”.

  • Money: The top factor cited for divorcing couples is financial.  In fact, money greatly outweighs any other specific example given.  About 50 percent of separating couples state money is the reason for the dissolution.
  • Adultery: The second most cite-specific reason for disunion is infidelity.  Cheating accounts for 25 percent of divorces among couples.
  • Abuse: Abuse is the least cited example of divorce rates.  Because it is often intertwined with other reasons such as substance abuse, gambling and adultery, no single consistent percentage is assigned to abuse as a statistic.
  • Irreconcilable Differences: The last reason given for marriage dissolution may actually be the highest percentage. But since the moniker is a “blanket” or “generic” reason, it cannot be definitively quantified.  Many couples cite irreconcilable differences simply to meet a legal standard, leaving the explanation uncertain. 

Ways to Get Divorced

There are four primary ways to get a divorce: litigation, mediation, negotiation, and collaborative.  Spouses will often attempt a combination of more than one of the following.

  • Litigated Divorce: Litigation is where spouses cannot agree on how to structure the terms of their divorce settlement and leave it to the court to decide for them.  Litigated divorce often takes a long time (often years) to complete and is often very costly.
  • Mediated Divorce:  Mediation is a process in which the spouses sit in different rooms and a third party neutral mediator goes back and forth between the two attempting to work out a compromise and come to a settlement.  Mediation is often court-ordered as part of the litigation process and is a cheaper, faster alternative to a fully litigated divorce.
  • Negotiated Divorce: Negotiated divorce is similar to mediated divorce except that the communication is done directly between the spouses, rather than through a third party mediator.  Although it can be a less expensive alternative to litigation or mediation, this approach can become highly emotional and may lead to an even greater disparity of positions that must be later litigated.
  • Collaborative Divorce: Collaborative divorce is a relatively new approach in which both spouses agree up front to conduct themselves in good faith, work cooperatively to reach a settlement and agree not to litigate the case.  The spouses agree to voluntarily provide all pertinent financial information during the collaborative process. This approach often results in a settlement involving less money, less time, and less of an emotional toll on the spouses and children than the alternative approaches.