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Marriage and divorce trends continue to shift

Newspapers, magazines and websites were filled with stories about how divorce rates continue to rise in 2019 for couples who are age 50 or above. This contrasts the overall rate going down since the 1980s with a drop of 18% between 2008 and 2016.

These are part of the broader topic of overall marriage trends. The reasons for this shift are cultural, generational and also quite interesting.

Hot button topics

Some thought-provoking ideas that jumped out at us include:

  • Millennials marrying later or not at all: The average age of couples getting married has from 22 (women) and 25 (men) to 27 and 29 since the 1980s, with 50 percent of those born after 1981 choosing not to marry, at least so far.
  • Marriage as social status: Along with waiting and entering marriage once their career is securely launched, there are signs that it is less attainable for demographics who are not as financially stable. This is born out in the recent trends of destination weddings, elaborate events and expensive rings.
  • Cohabitation now okay: More than 65% of couples cohabitate before getting married. Not only does this mean people marry later, but it also indicates that more couples see it as a viable alternative to marriage.
  • Divorce no longer taboo: There are countless TV shows with divorced parents and blended families – we are a long way away from The Brady Bunch, where the remarriage happened because both previous spouses had died.
  • Intermarriage on the rise: The number of mixed-race marriages has gone from 3% in 1967 to 17% in 2015, with over 50% of younger adults supporting mixed-race marriage.
  • Marriage for love: In light of laws and benefits packages provided by employers, each recognizing unmarried couples, 88% of Americans surveyed cited love as a “very important” reason for marriage.

Family law also changing

Just as the issues facing people marrying, divorcing, cohabitating, or splitting-up change, so do laws designed to address these issues. This prompts family law attorneys to adapt – they still handle divorce, custody and other traditional issues, but they are also ready to resolve legal matters related to these new trends.

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