Trends in American marriage and divorce in the 2020s

Posted by Josh Valentine | Feb 08, 2021

Marriage is a common experience among adults in western cultures. It is estimated that by age 50, more than 90% of us will marry at least once. According to the American Psychological Association, this is excellent news because marriage is good for a person's mental and physical health. It is also good for children who thrive in happy homes.  

Even with all of the positive side effects of marriage, it's no secret that divorce is just as common. Divorce rates have been on the rise since the 1960s, and almost 39% of U.S. marriages today end in divorce. With the pandemic's added pressures, one might assume that the outlook for marriage in the 2020s is not that bright. But the current marriage and divorce trends might surprise you.

Marriage Rates Are Declining

Only 44% of Millennials, or adults ages 23 to 38, were married in 2019, compared with 53% of Gen Xers and 61% of Baby Boomers at that age. Surprisingly, a decline in marriage doesn't mean that there are fewer millennials in relationships. In that same year, 12% of adults ages 23 to 38 lived with a romantic partner. This is 4% higher than the number of Gen Xers who were cohabitating at that age.

Marriage Occurs Later In Life

For the millennials that have married, the majority are doing so later in life. In 2019, the average age for men and women getting married was 30 and 28, respectively. In 2003, that average was 27 for men and 25 for women. And if you travel back just a little farther to 1987, the average marrying age was 23 and 21 years old, respectively.  

Divorce Rates Are Declining 

Though marriage rates are declining and couples are tying the knot at older ages, they stay married longer. The U.S. divorce fell from 9.7 new divorces per 1,000 women in 2009 to 7.6 divorces per 1,000 women in 2019.

Divorce and the Pandemic Effect 

The pandemic effect on marriage and the divorce rates was something that no one could predict. In 2020, marriage rates declined because of the thousands of weddings that had to be canceled or postponed due to COVID-19. But by April 2020, statistics also showed that the number of people seeking a divorce also had increased by 34%. 20% of those couples had been married for five months or less. 

We won't know the real impact of the pandemic on marriage and divorce rates for some time. Still, if you need help navigating the legal aspects of your marriage or divorce, Caulder and Valentine can help. Fill out our online contact form or call (704)470-2440 today to schedule a private consultation.

About the Author

Josh Valentine

You could say Josh has a God-given ability for sustaining long-term relationships. He and his wife first met in elementary school and went to Gardner Webb University (GWU) together, where they tied for number 1 in their class. Then, they both started law school on the same day of their graduation and got married during their first semester. He has also known his law partner Blake Caulder since Kindergarten. Theirs is the perfect partnership. “He’s the brake; I am the accelerator,” Josh says. Both Josh and his wife attended an innovative program at Charlotte Law School that allowed them to complete law school in two years instead of the typical three. His wife graduated and passed the North Carolina bar at age 20, becoming one of the youngest attorneys in the state. He readily admits she’s smarter than him. Of course, Josh went on to pass the North Carolina State Bar himself and later the South Carolina State Bar. While in school, he was Associate Editor of the Law Review and received accolades like Phi Delta Phi International Legal Honor Society membership, Order of the Crown, Pro Bono Honors, CALI Awards (highest grade). In his career as a lawyer, he has been admitted to the United States Federal Court for the Western District of North Carolina, is a member of the American Association of Premier DUI Attorneys, and completed training for DWI Detection & Standardized Field Sobriety Testing. Josh has also been named to the Top 40 Under 40 for Criminal Defense by The National Trial Lawyers, the Business North Carolina 2019 Legal Elite for Criminal Defense, and the 10 Best Attorneys for Client Satisfaction by the American Institute of Criminal Law Attorneys three years in a row (2016, 2017, and 2018). Community involvement has been important to Josh all his life. In high school, he participated in building a Holocaust museum that has become internationally regarded. He and his wife are actively engaged in animal rescue, which currently means seven cats and two kittens. He served in prison ministry and assisted with fundraiser banquets there, and he provides pro bono and reduced fee legal services to those in need. As if all of that weren’t enough, Josh also mentors high risk youth and helps with his church’s youth group. He participates in other community volunteer projects involving construction, remodeling, drywall, painting, and landscaping. He’s an active student of the Bible and has traveled to Israel, Brazil, and Europe for mission work. No one can say Josh isn’t a well-rounded individual. In his spare time, he likes to play softball, basketball, and tennis, and he can play the piano and trombone. Sometimes on weekends, believe it or not, he enjoys pouring and finishing concrete with friends who own a concrete and grading business. In his law practice, Josh has made it a point to develop positive relationships with officers, clerks, and district attorneys, which has proven invaluable in delivering positive results for his clients. It’s important to him to both listen to his clients and fight for them. Law enforcement officers have important responsibilities to keep our communities safe and uphold the law, but one of the responsibilities of attorneys is to make sure officers do their job correctly. Josh considers it his job to hold them accountable for their actions. Josh is a person of deep faith. He knows that the established order of our universe and strength of America’s Judeo-Christian influenced court system is built on God’s word. His passion to serve each client with innovation, excellence and integrity is a byproduct of his faith. When asked why he became a lawyer, Josh says, “All through my life, I have personally witnessed family members and very close friends endure divorce, child custody battles, bankruptcy, civil lawsuits, and even fraudulent criminal accusations. I both saw and experienced the stress such events can place on an individual, and I realized that everyone, at some point in their life, needs hope, comfort, and encouragement. In each one of those situations, the person who was best situated to provide that vital support was their lawyer. So that’s why I became an attorney. I understand what you are going through, and I’m here to help you. Our office is focused on meeting your needs and guiding you through what may be the most difficult time of your life.” Education: Charlotte School of Law J.D., Magna Cum Laude Class Rank – 21 of 328 Associate Editor of Charlotte School of Law Law Review Certification and Concentration in Employment Law Phi Delta Phi International Legal Honor Society Order of the Crown Pro Bono Honors CALI Awards (Highest Grade)—Lawyering Process I and Contracts I Full Scholarship Gardner-Webb University B.S. in Accounting, Summa Cum Laude Distinguished Senior Student Award – Highest GPA Alpha Sigma Lambda National Honorary Society Bar Admissions: North Carolina State Bar