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.

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. The Virginia Code Recognizes Two Types of Divorce

There are actually two types of divorce in Virginia. First is the normal “divorce from bond of matrimony” or “absolute divorce.” Second is “divorce from bed and board.”

A divorce from bed and board is like a shortcut to the normal divorce process. Think of it as a legal separation where you take care of the paperwork first, then actually divorce your spouse quickly and easily at a later date.

You can only file for a bed and board divorce in cases of cruelty or willful desertion.

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 actually several subcategories of divorce. These can include:

  • Fault / No-fault
  • Contested / Uncontested

The noticeable exception to this list is annulment.

Annulment is not a type of divorce. Rather, it treats the marriage as though it never existed in the first place.

An annulable marriage has two categories; void, and voidable.

A void marriage is considered legally dead as soon as it happens. Common examples of void marriages include cases where one spouse remarries while still married to another person, bigamy, and inter-family marriages.

Unlike void marriages, a voidable marriage is not automatically dead when it happens. Someone must ask a court to declare the marriage dead.

Generally, voidable marriages happen when one party lacks the ability to consent to the marriage in the first place. Usually, this happens due to age, mental capacity, or infirmity.

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”

In most cases, property gained while a couple is married counts as “marital property.” During a divorce, this property is divided equitably, regardless of who primarily paid for or acquired that property.

Otherwise known as “equitable distribution,” it’s important to note that the judge in your divorce case will divide all marital property based on principles of fairness.

For example, real estate, vehicles, savings accounts, retirement accounts, debts, and even the business that’s been in your family for generations are all fair game.

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.

4. You Children will get their Own Lawyer

If your child is too young to make legally binding decisions on their own, the court may appoint an attorney called a guardian ad litem to promote their interests in court.

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 Generally 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

Editor’s Note: This is no longer true.

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. Divorce Has a Long-Term Effect 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.


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 your legal options.

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