What did Virginians do more of in 2016, get married or get divorced? Because divorce is usually amplified and advertised as some sort of scourge of the Commonwealth, most folks would say Virginians got divorced more. They’d be wrong. In fact, Virginians married at a rate more than twice the state divorce rate, 7 percent versus 3.4 percent, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). The data cannot include 2017 because they are still crunching the numbers, but we can use trend analysis to unravel some patterns for 2017 trends in divorce.

Is the Divorce Rate Dropping?

Suppose you wanted to get detailed information about every Virginian’s shoe size. You realize that will take you a little while to collect, right? Any reliable organization that values integrity and accuracy will check its numbers carefully, meaning data do not come instantly.

When examining 2017 divorce trends, we need to understand some of the information reflects trends of 2016, or even 2015. For actual 2017 figures, we might see answers by 2019.

Still, the CDC provides a glimpse of Virginia divorce trends, so we can see that the 2016 divorce rate was a full percentage point lower than it was in 1990, 3.4 percent versus 4.4 percent. This also reflects a general downward trend in the Commonwealth.

From 1990 through 2006 the rate never fell below 4 percent, but since 2007 it has steadily dropped or held no higher than 3.8 percent.

The Census Declares an Important Trend for Fathers

The CDC is not the only reliable reporter of divorce trends. The United States Census Bureau tracks trends as well, and has an interesting bit of news for divorced dads. You are in fast company, marking a trend that shows an increase in children living with just their fathers.

Unpacking the study, we find that the percentage of children living with just their fathers increased nationally from 12.5 percent in 2007 to 16.1 percent in 2017. Additionally, more than a quarter of all children under 18 (27.1 percent) live with just one parent.

The study does not specify if the living arrangements are from divorce, death of a parent, or unmarried parents, but certainly divorce plays a key role in that large number.

How Long Does it Take for Couples to Decide on Divorce?

For married Virginian couples, Avvo’s annual Relationship Study1, points to a worrisome trend for 2017: 7 percent of married survey responders say they are definitely thinking about breaking up, and 18 percent claim they are definitely or “somewhat” thinking about it. Yikes! Though Virginia’s divorce rate is low, this one statistic from Avvo indicates family law attorneys will have no shortage of business in the future.

How far off into the future is a divorce for these contemplating couples? The study says the time between deciding to divorce and starting an actual divorce is as little as half a year for nearly a quarter (23 percent) of respondents.

Those not wanting to be quite so hasty — taking between half a year and a year — comprise 12 percent of the respondents, and those needing one to three years are 28 percent of respondents.

How Long Does the Average Divorce Take?

Avvo also charted how long divorce took. For 25 percent of divorces, the process took a year or less. For another 26 percent, the legal proceedings took a year to three years. For an agonizing 36 percent of divorcing couples, divorce took five or more years to complete.

The length of your marriage apparently has some relationship to divorce, too, though correlation is not causation. Ten percent of those married five or fewer years got divorced; 9 percent of couples married five to 10 years divorced, but only 5 percent of couples married 10 to 15 years divorced.

Once you hit 15 years of marriage, you are likely to stay married. Only 2 percent of couples married 15 to 20 years divorced, and (statistically at least) nobody hitched 20 years or more divorced.

Why are Couples Divorcing?

Avvo also looked at causes of divorce in 2017. A full 10 percent of married respondents to the study said they had cheated on their spouses at some time in their marriage, with men reporting cheating more than women (12 percent to 7 percent).

Unsurprisingly, with so many adulterers sneaking around, cheating is the #1 cause of divorce, says Avvo. As either a significant reason (42 percent) or a primary reason (29 percent), cheating was by far the most common answer. Sure, couples grew apart (32 percent) or disagreed about their finances (17 percent), but no other reason came close to cheating as the driving force behind divorce.

We present these numbers without editorial comment. You may find comfort by finding a group that describes you. You may be disappointed in the figures, or encouraged to know you are not alone.

That piece was heavy with numbers, but we have 10 more for you: 757-383-9184, our telephone number. Your call to The Firm For Men connects you with a real family law attorney skilled in navigating Virginia divorce law. Contact us online or by telephone to learn how we can help you with your contested or uncontested divorce, parenting time, and more.

1. https://www.slideshare.net/AvvoAnswers/2017-avvo-modern-love-and-relationship-study