Statistics on Separation and Divorce


Numbers of Adults Who are Separated – Total number of separated individuals In the year 2000 – 4,795,270 Women who consider themselves separated – 2,916,327
Men who consider themselves separated – 1,878,943 (U.S. Census Bureau, 2000)

Percentage of Adults Who Are Separated – 3% of adults 18 and older are presently separated from their marriage partner. (Barna 2004)

Reconciliation of Those Separated
10% of all currently married couples in the U.S. have experienced a separation and reconciliation in their marriage. (Howard Weinberg, the Journal of Marriage in the Family, Feb. 1994.) (Wineberg and McCarthy, “Separtion and reconciliation in American marriages,” Journal of Divorce & Remarriage 29, 1993: 131-46).

1/3 of women attempting to reconcile their marriages succeed in doing so. (Howard Weinberg, the Journal of Marriage in the Family, Feb. 1994.)

Loneliness: The Separated are more lonely than any other group of adults categorized by marital status.29.6% of the Separated say they are lonely compared to 20.6% widowed, 20.4% divorced, 14.5% never married and 4.6% married. (For this study, loneliness was defined as the absence of satisfying social relationships.) Randy M. Page and Galen E. Cole, “Demographic Predictors of Self-Reorted Loneliness in Adults,” Psychological Reports, 1991, 68:939-945.

Length of Separation

Almost half those who separate remain separated at least a year before divorcing. Sixteen percent remain separated for three years or more. (DHHS report, July 2002

The average length of a first separation is three years for those who end up divorcing and two years for those who reunite with their spouse.

80 percent who go through a marital separation ultimately divorce, most within three years.

15 percent of separations don’t lead to divorce or reconciliation within 10 years. The National Longitudinal Survey of Youth 1979 (NLSY79)

Divorce and Religion.

Among married adults who do not consider themselves “born again,” 35% have experienced a divorce. Among married adults who consider themselves “born again Christians,” but are not evangelical, 33% have experienced a divorce. (Barna 2008)
Among married adults who are born again evangelicals, 26% have experienced a divorce. (Barna 2008)
23% of married born again Christians get divorced two or more times. (Barna 2004)

Variation in Divorce by Education

Adults with a college degree are less likely to divorce.
31% college grads

36% non-college grads

Variation in Divorce by location – Adults who have been married at least once
(Barna (2004)

West 38%
South 35%
Midwest 32%
Northeast 28%

Age and Divorce

Average age at which people first dissolve their initial marriage tends to be in the early thirties.

Almost half of all married Boomers (46%) have already undergone a marital split. According to Barna, this indicates that Boomers are virtually certain to “become the first generation for which a majority experienced a divorce.” (Barna)

One quarter of married Baby Busters (27%) have already undergone a divorce.
(Barna 2004)

Regrets From Divorce

40% of divorced people regretted their divorce and thought it was preventable. (Australian and New Jersey studies. (William J. Doherty, PhD, Family Social Science Dept., University of Minnesota,

62% of both the ex-husbands and ex-wives said they wished their spouses had worked harder, and 35% of the ex-husbands and 21% of ex-wives said they wished they, themselves, had worked harder. Only about a third of the respondents of each gender thought that both ex-spouses had worked hard enough. ( National Survey on Marriage in America, Ever-divorced Respondents Give Reasons for Their Divorces,2005)

“lack of commitment” was the most frequently given reason for the divorce by ever divorced respondents . (National Survey on Marriage in America, National Fatherhood Initiative, 2005)

Happiness of Those Who Divorce vs. Those Who Remain Married Thru Unhappy Times

Two-thirds of unhappily married spouses who stayed married reported that their marriages were happy 5 years later. The most unhappy marriages reported the most dramatic turnarounds. Among those who rated their marriages as very unhappy, almost 8 out of 10 who avoided divorce were happily married 5 years later.

Conversely, on average unhappily married adults who divorced, whether staying single or remarrying, were no happier than unhappily married adults who stayed married.

Commitment to their marriages was responsible for staying in their marriages and finding happiness five years later.

Many currently happily married spouses have had extended periods of marital unhappiness, often for serious reasons such as alcoholism, infidelity, verbal abuse, emotional neglect, depression, illness, and work reversals.

Three out of four unhappily married adults are married to someone who is happy with the marriage.

From: Does Divorce Make People Happy? Findings from a Study of Unhappy Marriages by Linda J. Waite, Don Browning, William J. Doherty, Maggie Gallagher, Ye Luo, and Scott M. Stanley, Institute for American Values.


Marital Violence and Divorce

86% of unhappily married adults reported no violence in their relationship (including 77% who later divorced or separated) (93% of unhappy spouses.who avoided divorce reported no violence in their marriage 5 years later.) (Does Divorce Make People Happy?)

Emotional Health of Separated and DivorcedPersons

In each category below the rates are higher for the divorced and separated than those with intact marriages.

Loneliness: The Separated are more lonely than any other group of adults categorized by marital status.29.6% of the Separated say they are lonely compared to 20.6% widowed, 20.4% divorced, 14.5% never married and 4.6% married.

(For this study, loneliness was defined as the absence of satisfying social relationships.)
(Randy M. Page and Galen E. Cole, “Demographic Predictors of Self-Reorted Loneliness in Adults,” Psychological Reports, 1991, 68:939-945.)

Alcoholism: 16.2% of those Separated or Divorced once will be alcoholics; 24.2% of those going through more than one Separation or Divorce will be alcoholics. Compared with only 8.9% with intact marriages being alcoholics.

Mental Illness: Those who are Separated or Divorced have a 44% chance of suffering from a psychiatric disorder. Compared to 24% married, never separated or divorced.

Depression and Women: Rate of depression for women who have been twice divorced is higher than any other category of marital status (5.8%) as compared to Cohabiting women (5.1%), Divorced once 4.1%. Compared to Married (never divorced) 1.5%

Lee Robins and Darrel Regier, Psyciatric Disorders in America: The Epidemiologic Catchment Area Studey (New York: Free Press, 1991, p. 103 & 334

Suicide: The suicide rate for the Divorced is 2.9%, higher than any other category of marital status. (2.8% for Widowed, 1.9% for Never Married, 1.0% for Married.)

Jack C. Smith, James A Mercy and Judith M. Conn, “Marital Status and the Risk of Suicide,” American Journal of Public Health, 1988, 78:78-80

Single and divorced women are four to five times more likely to be victims of violent crime in any given year. (Why Marriage Matters)

Between one-fifth and one-third of divorcing women end up in poverty as a result of divorce. (Why Marriage Matters)


Since 1960, the proportion of children who do not live with their own two parents has risen sharply – from 19.4% to 42.3% in the Nineties. (Why Marriage Matters)

Health: Children who live with their own two married parents enjoy better physical health, on average, than children in other family forms.
(Why Marriage Matters, Second Edition: )

Children From Disrupted Marriages Vs. Those Living With Both Original Parents:

Health vulnerability scores are from 20% to 35% higher than for children living with both original parents.

Predicted risk of injury – 20% to 30% greater for children from disrupted marriages.

Asthma – 50% greater risk in those living with formerly married mothers.

Receiving professional help for emotional or behavior problems. 8.8% – children living with formerly married mothers; 2.7% for children living with both original parents.

Deborah A. Dawson, “Family Structure and Children’s Health and Well-Being: Data from 1988 National Health Interview Survey on Child Health,” Journal of Marriage and the Family, 1991, 53:573-584.


According to four different studies:

Teen Births: Teens in single parent households are close to twice as likely to give birth to a child. (Two studies show more than twice as likely; two have a smaller gap.

High School Dropouts: Children in single parent households are almost twice as likely to be high school dropouts.

Idleness (a precursor to crime): In single parent households, a higher percentage of teens were out of school and out of work than in two-parent households.

Above data was adjusted for race, sex, parental education, number of siblings and place of residence.

(Four Surveys – National Longitudinal Survey of Youth, Panel Study of Income Dynamics; High School and Beyond, National Survey of Famiies and Households, as analyzed by Drs. Sara McLanahan and Gary Sandefur, Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1994, p. 41)

Boys raised in single-parent homes are about twice as likely (and boys raised in stepfamilies three times as likely) to have committed a crime that leads to incarceration by the time they reach their early thirties.(Why Marriage Matters)

(This data found after controlling for race, mother’s education, neighborhood quality and cognitive ability.)

Teenage Suicides – Three out of four teenage suicides occur in households where a parent has been absent. (Jean Beth Eshtain, “Family Matters” The Plight of America’s Children The Christian Century (July 1993) 14-21)

Teen Suicide – “Fatherless children are at dramatically greater risk of suicide.” (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, National Center for Health Statistics, Survey on Child Health, Washington D.C. 1993.)

Cohabitation or Marriage

The probability of a first marriage ending in separation or divorce with 5 years is 20 percent, after 10 years it is 33 percent.. The probability of a premarital cohabitation breaking up within 5 years is 49 percent, after 10 years it is 62 percent. (Barna, 2002)