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Maryland professor projects declining divorce rates

While divorce rates may decline going forward because of careful marital decisions by younger adults, this generation will likely have unique legal needs.

A recent study concludes that divorce rates are declining, especially among younger women and in contrast with the high divorce rates of the Baby Boomer generation in older age and in second and subsequent marriages.

The author, University of Maryland Professor of Sociology Philip N. Cohen, analyzed recent federal data and other research, concluding that they “show falling divorce risks for recent marriages … [and that] [t]he U.S. is progressing toward a system in which marriage is rarer, and more stable, than it was in the past.”

Cohen finds the trend “remarkable” because of a rise in cohabitation, a kind of relationship that shows less stability, as well as more public acceptance of divorce.

Looking at data from 2008 through 2017, Cohen calculates a divorce rate for women under age 35 of 18.1% and for those at least 55, 37.2%. He also speculates that the lower divorce rate among these younger women might mean that their children will also divorce at lower rates.

Cohen writes that certain changing trends of recently married women point to a better chance of marital stability:

  • Older at time of marriage
  • More entering their first marriages
  • More with college degrees

Considering that marriage rates are historically low, younger adults are “increasingly selective” when they choose marriage and “economic security increasingly predicts marital stability,” Cohen concludes that marriage in the U.S. will be less common, but with more stability and possessing “a more elite status” going forward.

Impact on legal needs

If Cohen’s predictions come to pass and marriages trend toward more stability and less divorce, and cohabitation relationships remain high, there are some likely trends in future legal needs related to family and relationships:

  • If people marry with higher levels of education and more economic stability, they should consider premarital or prenuptial agreements before tying the knot since they are likely to have more assets and financial stability that they want to manage going into marriage.
  • Cohabitating partners should look at ways to protect their legal interests. For example, they might look at the possibility of an agreement to control how they will split joint assets should the relationship end.
  • When someone in a marriage with economic success does divorce, issues of property division, child support and alimony will be especially significant.

An experienced Maryland attorney will be able to answer questions and provide guidance and legal services in all matters related to marriage, cohabitation and divorce.

The lawyers at the Law Office of Kevin L. Beard, P.A., in Catonsville, Maryland, represent people throughout the Baltimore area in a range of family law matters.