In 2012, the last year for which statistics are available, the national average rate of divorce is 3.4 per 1,000 people, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). That same year, the divorce rate in Washington state was 3.9 per 1,000 people, 15 percent higher than the national average. It ranked 14th amongst the 44 states that reported data. The Washington DOH reported a slightly lower divorce rate of 3.8 per 1,000 in its most recent reports.
Washington Ranks High But Divorce Rate Is Dropping
The divorce rate in Washington State has been dropping steadily since the early 1990s, following a general trend that has taken place across the nation. In 1991, the divorce rate in Washington was 5.9 out of 1,000. Ten years later, in 2000, the rate had dropped to 4.6 out of 1,000. And by 2014, the rate dropped to 3.6.
Source: Washington Department of Health
*Rate per 1,000 population.
Below are some additional divorce statistics for Washignton state in 2014.
- There were a total of 24,847 divorces, annulments, and legal separations filed in the state. This includes 24,847 divorces, 102 annulments, and 950 legal separations.
- King County led all others with 5,558 total divorces, annulments, and legal separations.
- Of the 24,847 divorces, 12,017 involved no children; 4,771 involved one child; 5,132 involved two children; 1,775 involved three children; and 651 involved four or more children. Number of children was unknown in 501 filings.
Potential Reasons for the Decline in Divorce Rate
A number of factors affect the divorce rate in Washington. The recent recession and housing crisis has caused the divorce rate to plummet in the last two years. Some of the factors causing more families to stay together out of need rather than want include the following.
- Fears about selling a house at a loss
- Supporting a family on one salary
- Finding a job in the wake of a separation
On the other hand, experts also believe that the divorce rate is dropping for generational and cultural reasons: couples are waiting longer to get married, people are more likely to be educated, more people are using birth control, and more couples are seeking counseling both before and during marriage.
Also, an increasing number of people are cohabitating rather than marrying, which means when they break-up, those figures don’t make it into the divorce rates.
Gender roles play a role in the decline of divorces, too. Women are more financially independent now than in decades past, and tend to marry more for love and to find their soul mate, not to find a good breadwinner.
Marriage therapist and professor of family social science at University of Minnesota William Doherty notes: “Two-thirds of divorces are initiated by women, so when you’re talking about changes in divorce rates, in many ways you’re talking about changes in women’s expectations.”
When Divorce is on the Horizon
If you’re unhappy in your marriage and divorce is on the horizon, divorce statistics likely matter little to you. You need answers and action. Molly B. Kenny is a divorce attorney serving the Seattle area. Call (425) 460-0550 or fill out the online form.