If you like to peruse and research the topic of divorce like I do on any kind of regular basis (and if you do you’re a little nutty), you will note that people tend to throw out divorce statistics like candy on Halloween. Every Tom, Dick and Harry Government Agency has done some type of statistical research on divorce and they all say theirs is the most accurate. But, what does the mean mean?
While looking for the percentage of women who file for divorce, and yes, I know all you men will start to throw numbers at me, so let me duck first, I came across the most trusted and reliable source for statistics, CDC.gov, which houses vital statistics reports.
I read the most interesting thing there. The NCHS, National Center for Health Statistics, stopped collecting information about marriage and divorce in January of 1996 due to budget issues. Hmmmm. There was one final advanced report of divorce statistics for 1989 – 1990. I’ll get back to what I read there in just a sec, m’kay?
On this same page, there is a list of other sources for statistics on marriage and divorce. One such place would be the U.S. Census Bureau. Makes sense, or at least one would think it would. I found this written on the page when I clicked the link, “The Census Bureau is not the official source for administrative counts of marriages and divorces that take place in a given year. These data may be obtained from the National Center For Health Statistics (NCHS).” Isn’t that where I just was?
Where Do The Recent Divorce Statistics Come From?
Now this would be the ultimate question. From all the clicking around that I did, it seems as if it all led me back to the same two places, which would be the CDC, which stopped collecting the data in ’96 and the Census Bureau, who claims that they never collected the data to begin with.
Certainly you can find plenty of numbers being thrown around with percentages attached to them, but how accurate can they really be? Even I have been known to throw some of those out from time to time, but now I wonder if the mean even means anything.
What I did find out
The good news – my search was not a total loss. I discovered some good stats for all my number hound friends.
- In 1990 there were a total of 1,182,000 divorces in the United States, the highest number recorded since 1985.
- In 1990 the wife was awarded custody 72% of the time, joint custody was awarded 16% of the time and husbands were awarded custody 9% of the time (a travesty).
- Most divorces occurred in the first 10 years of marriage.
- In 1990 there were 16.8 per 1,000 children under the age of 18 involved in divorce.
What I didn’t find out
What percentage of the time women filed for divorce. If any of you know this and can point me to the source, let me know!