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50% Divorce Rate Is Almost Certainly “Wrong” Says Professor Of Sociology


A professor of sociology, Dr. Jodien Johnson, teaches trends and statistics related to marriage in her class entitled Marriage and the Family. The class discusses topics from a socio-psychological viewpoint with “stress on personal awareness, growth, and satisfaction in interpersonal relationships. She also debunks common myths in her class.

One of the most pervasive myths is that about half of all marriages end in divorce. This myth, while once true, has managed to keep itself alive even as divorce rates are declining.

“I think people are surprised when we talk about how divorce is actually decreasing — the percent of people getting divorced,” Johnson said. “Most people have been told that the divorce rate is 50%, that half of all marriages end in divorce. Certainly at the peak of [it], that was probably true, but since the ’90s, we’ve seen the divorce rate steadily coming down.”

Johnson believes that divorce peaked in the 70s and 80s with the advent of no-fault divorce. Most of the studies that indicate that the divorce rate is 50% were done in the 80s when divorces were incredibly high. Today, both the marriage rate and the divorce rate have declined with fewer couples seeking to get married than in decades past.

Prior to the 1970s, most states had very limited grounds for divorce. A couple would have to give a reason for pursuing a divorce. Often, this meant blaming the other spouse for adultery, cruelty, abuse, or other allegations. Today, all states have adopted some form of no-fault divorce. No fault divorce allows a couple to get divorced without blaming the other party. In other words, the couple can claim that irreconcilable differences led to their divorce as opposed to blaming their spouse for the breakdown of the marriage. This made it much easier to get a divorce in most states. It also reduced costs related to divorce and changed the way a lot of divorces were handled.

Today, it is much more common for couples to seek out a mediator to dissolve their marriage. This stands in contrast to taking the matter before a judge in a courtroom. A judge only has to look over the final divorce decree, and the couple can reach all their decisions together. Nonetheless, you still have to state a reason why you are getting divorced.

In Maryland, there are three options for no-fault divorce:

  • 6-month separation – The spouses can either separate and move into different residences for a period of 6 months without interruption, or the spouses can still live in the same residence but live completely separate lives. In other words, they sleep in different bedrooms and do not share meals.
  • Irreconcilable differences – The spouse who initiates the divorce sets forth reasons why the marriage should end. These reasons demonstrate why there will never be a reconciliation between the two spouses, and so the marriage should end.
  • Mutual consent – If both spouses work together to produce a written settlement agreement that resolves issues related to alimony, property distribution, custody, and child support, they can present this decree to the judge and finalize their divorce.

Talk to a Maryland Divorce Lawyer Today 

The Bel Air family attorneys at Schlaich & Thompson, Chartered represent the interests of married couples or spouses who are seeking to divorce. Call our office today to schedule an appointment, and we can begin discussing your next steps right away.



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