Understanding the Divorce Consumer: It’s Complicated

When the news reports a celebrity divorce, the report typically includes the “fact” that the U.S. divorce rate is about 50 percent per year. But when you take a look at the overall data, the picture is far less bleak. So, the numbers can be massaged. That’s no big surprise. But if you’re an attorney who wants to earn more divorce clients, the depth of your knowledge about this market needs to go beyond, “It’s complicated.”

With that in-mind, here are some other key data about the divorce market:

  • Baby boomers represent the greatest generation in terms of getting divorced. As they began to marry in the 1960s and 1970s, the boomer generation also began divorcing much faster than their elders. As boomers entered their 40s and 50s, they even began divorcing more than their juniors (or their elders.) That’s not all: A National Center for Family and Marriage Research study showed that the divorce rate doubled over the past 20 years among adults middle-aged and older. (The data also suggest that subsequent generations are divorcing at notably lower rates.)
  • The divorce rate varies widely by state—and by the size of the population center. New Jersey, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, New York, Minnesota and Massachusetts have some of the lowest rates, while Alaska, Alabama, Arkansas, Kentucky, Oklahoma and Nevada have some of the highest. Digging a little deeper, data show that the largest numbers of divorces come from the most densely populated metropolitan areas in the country, even though most of those metros are in states with relatively low divorce rates.
  • Most sources show that two-thirds of all divorces are being filed by women. The most common reason for this: Women are better educated and more career-oriented than ever before. This means that women have more independence (financial and otherwise) and the ability to make an easier transition from married to unmarried life. Although women usually feel confident that they will retain custody of their kids, children are (not surprisingly) the number-one concern among women who file for divorce. And in an odd contrast, divorced women are far more likely to say they are happier than when they were married even though they are also more likely to face financial problems, lower chances of remarriage, and more anxiety, stress and depression.

What does this all mean for your firm? Check back here next week. We’ll go beyond basic background data to explore the tactics and styles that are most effective at reaching this market.

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