How Do California Divorce Rates Compare to Other States?

Posted in Divorce on September 3, 2022

Most people have heard the statistic, “50 percent of marriages end in divorce.” In reality, however, this statistic has not been accurate in the United States for many years. The divorce rate has been steadily on the decline, with certain states reporting a larger decrease in the number of divorces than others. Based on marriage and divorce data collected over the last several years, California is one of the states with the lowest current divorce rate.

California Has a Lower Divorce Rate Than Most States

California currently has one of the lowest numbers of divorces filed over the last 10 years in the U.S. According to the most recent marriage and divorce statistics published by the United States Census Bureau (2019), California is number 41 on the list of states with the highest divorce rates. This means that only 9 states reported a lower divorce rate than California in 2019.

The divorce rate per 1,000 women aged 15 and over in California was 6.5 in 2019. This represented a decrease of 2.4 divorces per 1,000 women from 10 years earlier (the divorce rate was 8.9 in 2009). Only 11 states had divorce rates lower than the national average in 2019. California was one of them.

As of 2019, there were 1.1 fewer divorces in California than on a national level (7.6 and 6.5, respectively). Several states had higher rates than the national average in 2019, while others were about the same as the national rate. The two states that tied for the smallest number of divorces – Maine and the District of Columbia – both had rates of 4.8. The state that ranked the highest in terms of divorce was Arkansas, at 10.7.

One study published by Zippia narrowed down divorce rates based on age, showing only the number of divorces among people at the age of 30. This gave California one of the lowest divorce rates in the country at 6.87 percent. By contrast, Arkansas had a divorce rate of 20 percent. Some of the other states with low divorce rates were Rhode Island (6.7 percent), Massachusetts (5.52 percent) and – the lowest in the country – New York at 4.97 percent.

Nationally, Divorce Rates Have Decreased Overall

In 2019, the nation as a whole reported a lower divorce rate than in the previous decade, not just California. Census Bureau data shows that the national divorce rate in 2009 was 9.7 for every 1,000 women aged 15 and over. By 2019, this rate had dropped by 21.6 percent to 7.6. However, this decrease does not necessarily reflect happier marriages as much as fewer marriages in general. The national marriage rate dropped by 7.4 percent – from 17.6 to 16.3 – between 2009 and 2019. Based on the data collected, the national divorce rate has decreased even when the drop in the number of marriages overall is taken into account.

What Contributes to Divorce Rates by State?

Tracking marriage and divorce rates by state can show patterns that may signify why couples are more or less likely to get divorced in certain states. Although it is difficult to explain exactly why so many marriages struggle to last in specific states, such as Arkansas and Idaho, suggestions by researchers include:

  • Lower socioeconomic status
  • More financial problems
  • Less education
  • Higher stress levels
  • Younger age at the time of marriage
  • More children
  • Domestic violence or abuse
  • Weather and environmental conditions
  • Seasonal depression

In a place like sunny California, with a booming economy, beautiful weather and ample opportunities for couples, it makes sense why the divorce rate would be lower than in many other states. This does not mean, however, that all marriages in California are meant to last. If you are considering getting divorced in Solana Beach or elsewhere in California, contact a divorce lawyer at Ratzer|Dobis for a case consultation.