Original Article for attorneys.com

“Half of all marriages end in divorce” has been a widely accepted idea for many years. Statistically speaking how accurate is that idea? Well, as it turns out, it’s right on the money. Over the last 40 years, roughly 50% of the marriages in the U.S. have ended in divorce. However, the percentage of marriages ending in divorce hasn’t always been so high.

“Before 1970, divorce was relatively uncommon and difficult to get. Fault was usually required. One of the spouses must have committed a crime or sin that justified the divorce. There needed to be adultery, abandonment, cruelty, intoxication or some other reason that made it necessary to end the marriage.”

So what changed? Simply put, the law.

“No-fault divorce became an option in some states in the 1950s. Couples no longer needed to prove that one person was at fault. They could simply say that the marriage had broken down. By 1970, almost all states had laws allowing no-fault divorces. A long separation before the divorce used to be mandatory. Many states also passed laws that greatly decreased the separation time, making divorce easier and faster. These laws had a great effect on the divorce rate. From 1940 to 1965, the divorce rate remained near 10 divorces for every 1,000 married women. By 1979, the rate had doubled.”

The changes in the laws regarding divorce dramatically shortened the time and effort an unhappy spouse needed to put forth in order to get a divorce. This had a monumental impact on divorce rates. With laws that are still being revamped, and the ongoing changes in sociological views on divorce, many believe that divorce rates will continue to rise.