12 Interesting Facts About Divorce

Divorce is a common legal matter, and a more common social one. What follows are a number of interesting facts about divorce you may not have known.

Last updated on October 22nd, 2018

Divorce is a costly, time-consuming, and emotionally taxing process. As with any legal matter, there can be positive and negative aspects, but overall it is a process designed with options to bring about as clean of a break as possible.

As with all things legal, there are many interesting facts about divorce you may not be aware of, such as:

1. Virginia law recognizes two types of divorce

There is a divorce from bed & board, and a divorce from the bond of matrimony. A “divorce from the bond of matrimony” is a traditional divorce. A divorce from bed & board is more of a legal separation. It can only be sought on grounds of cruelty, abuse, willful desertion, or abandonment [1].

These cases usually involve one or both parties in physical, mental, or financial instability as a result of the marriage.

A divorce from the bond of matrimony can only be sought on grounds of fault, such as, adultery, felony incarceration, or by living separate and apart for the required time. This means an uninterrupted separation period of one year (or a six month separation period if no children are involved) [2].

Knowing which to file for can help in planning for the road ahead.

2. There is a difference between a divorce and an annulment

Although divorce seems pretty straight-forward, there are subcategories of of divorce. These include: fault/no-fault, void/voidable, and contested/uncontested divorces.

Divorce

A fault based divorce involves one or both parties proving fault as the motive for separation, including adultery, conviction of a felony, cruelty, and abandonment, to name a few [3]. A no-fault divorce is one which neither side alleges fault, rather it is based solely on the spouses having lived separate and apart for the required time.

A contested divorce exists when parties disagree on any of the terms of the settlement. This type of dispute can be settled in mediation or in court. An uncontested divorce has the agreement of both parties, and can be settled outside of court interference.

Annulment

Seeking an annulment is an option that may be preferable to seeking a divorce if the relationship qualifies. An annulment is not a divorce, rather it treats the marriage as though it never existed.

An annulable marriage has two categories; void, and voidable. A void marriage is considered legally dead as soon as it happens. A void marriage includes acts such as remarrying while legally still married to another party, bigamy, and inter-family marriages.  [4].

Unlike void marriages, a voidable marriage is not automatically dead when it happens. Someone must ask a court to declare it dead. Voidable marriages are those in which one party lacked the ability to consent to marriage because of age or, mental incapacity or infirmity, and can be declared void  [5].

Regardless of being void or voidable, the main point of an annulment is that a court erases the marriage as though it never happened. It is essentially, a legal do-over.

3. “What’s-mine-is-yours,” legally

Otherwise known as “equitable distribution“, equitable distribution does not mean equal distribution, rather, it mean fair distribution. A judge will view the marriage as a whole adn divide all the marital property based on principles of fairness. This frequently results in somethings other than a 50-50 split of property.

Marital property can includes almost all property acquired during the marriage, regardless who who’s name is on the title. It can include real estate, vehicles,  savings accounts, retirement accounts, and even debts over the course of the marriage.

Most property is considered to be shared, and deciding whether to sell or negotiate the terms of who gets what can become costly, time-consuming, and rather unpleasant for both parties.

Mediation can ease this process, encouraging negotiation and coming to an agreement without the need for court interference.

4. Children can be provided legal representation of their own

During divorce and custody proceedings, the court can appoint a special advocate to represent the children’s best interests. In Virginia, this person is a licensed attorney known as a Guardian Ad Litem. Their sole purpose is to seek and protect the best interest of the children involved. The guardian acts as legal counsel independent of either parent. Their job is to present an unbiased defense of the minors, their needs, and overall well-being.

5. Remarriage rates for men and women are nationally equal

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, there is little disparity between genders in terms of remarriage. The rate of remarriage is balanced between men and women in first, second, and third marriages.

However, a 2009 study shows that women are over 4% more likely to be widowed than men.

6. Mature marriages are happy marriages

Believe it or not, divorce rates are actually decreasing nationally. As data shows, both men and women are marrying later in life, leading to more mature marriages and fewer divorce rates overall. The median age for men to marry has risen from 23 to 27, and from 20 to 26 for women.

Overall, marrying later has resulted in a decrease in divorce statistics.

7. Only one U.S. President has divorced

Presidential icon Ronald Reagan divorced from his wife of eight years, actress Jane Wyman. Together, the pair had a daughter and an adopted son.

He remarried to actress Nancy Davis, who was also previously married. They shared two children and remained married for the remainder of their lives.

8. Almost 50% of divorcees regret their decision to divorce

A UK study found that 54% of people questioned their decision to end the marriage, while others reported feelings of remaining love or affection for their ex-partners. 42% have considered giving their ended marriages another try, and in those that did try again, 21% remained together.

What’s more: nearly half of those who decided to renew their relationship reported feeling happier and stronger in their partnership.

9. Divorce is fairly common

A study has revealed that 1 in 4 marriages end in divorce, and more than one million U.S. residents are children affected by divorce. More reported each year, and although the rates of divorce are decreasing, it is still a common experience among families.

In fact, 40-50% of all first marriages (and nearly 60% of second marriages) are shown to end in divorce.

10. Occupation can play a role in the likelihood of divorce

An analysis of the 2000 U.S. Census, a study found that choreographers and dancers held the highest divorce rate by occupation (43.1%), alongside bartenders (38.4%) and massage therapists (38.2%).

Engineers – agricultural, sales, and nuclear – reported as being one of the occupations with lower divorce rates, along with optometrists (4%), clergy (5.6%), and podiatrists (6.8%).

(Note: Statistics are based on the U.S. Census, which does not account for remarriage.)

11. Cohabitation can be unstable

Whether it’s before marriage or a strategy to forego marriage, living together before marrying has shown to lead to more unstable relationships. CDC statistics have shown that first marriages have a 20% chance of ending in divorce within 5 years, but those statistics inflate to 49% when there is the inclusion of cohabitation before marriage.

After 10 years, the rate of divorce in first marriages raises slightly to 33%, with a marked increase in premarital cohabitation to an alarming 62%.

Factors include age, family history, religion, and family income, but overall there is a marked difference in marital bliss that is dependent on living arrangements before marriage.

12. There are long-term effects on children

Divorce can be messy, especially when children become involved.

Studies have shown that children can harbor feelings of anger, sadness, depression, aggression, acting out, and increased dependency, along with other emotional distresses.

These effects can be short- or long-term, though no less serious. The results were consistent in various pre-divorce living conditions.

Conclusion

Divorce is common, but declining as marital maturity increases. There are many factors to consider, and various options when deciding which method of separation is best. Studies and statistics are useful when weighing the legal options.

For more information on divorce, click here. Otherwise, schedule your consultation with a Tingen & Williams Virginia Family Attorney.


[1] Va. Code § 20-95

[2] Va. Code § 20-91

[3] Id.

[4] Id.

[5] Id.

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