On our blog, we’ve discussed millennials and their changing views on marriage, something that has been noted in numerous studies, including one on how younger Americans are more likely today to ask for prenuptial agreements prior to marriage than in the past. According to newly published research from University of Maryland Professor Philip Cohen, those changing views may also be prompting a significant decline in U.S. divorce rates.
According to the study, which analyzed marriage and divorce records from the U.S. Census Bureau from 2008 to 2018, the U.S. divorce rate has declined by 18 percent. That’s a significant figure for experts and researchers, and it’s prompting further explanation into what underlying factors may be the cause. The main factors include:
- Fewer marriages – Millennials view marriage more as something along the lines of an achievement of status rather than a tradition you simply carry out because it’s expected. That’s evident in the fact that more millennials are waiting to get married later in life than previous generations did, and in data that shows many millennials chose cohabitation over marriage. With fewer marriages, there are naturally fewer divorces. But Cohen also notes that those who do get married are more likely to stick together.
- Not Baby Boomers – The research also included an analysis of data from the marriage research center at Bowling Green University, which notes that Baby Boomers most definitely aren’t the cause of declining divorce rates. In fact, older generations are still getting divorced at high rates, something that’s been dubbed “grey divorce,” well into their later years. From 1990 to 2005, for example, statistics show doubled divorce rates among U.S. adults between the ages of 55 and 64, and nearly tripled rates of divorce among those 65 and older.
- Education – Millennials with an education are more likely to get married, even if they do so later in life, than those without degrees. In fact, experts have coined the term “marriage gap” to describe the disparity between marriage and education. Roughly 75% of women in their early 40s with a college degree are married in the U.S. today, while just half of women with high school diplomas or less are married at the same age. Millennials are still having relationships and children, but are more likely to cohabitate and co-parent than get married.
What the Numbers Help Us Identify
Research like this can be important to helping legal professionals who represent clients in matters of divorce and family law identify the unique issues and most important concerns for their clients. Just as research into gray divorce show that issues like retirement savings and community property can be important focal points for older Americans looking to end a marriage, the same can be done for millennials. Though every case is different, younger Americans do share some common divorce and family law issues, including:
- Prenuptial agreements – More millennials understand that divorce doesn’t always pan out, which is why studies have shown increases in the number of couples asking for prenups before getting hitched. Ensuring these prenuptial agreements are negotiated in a sensible manner, and that parties protect their rights and interests for their unique concerns, is critical to ensuring their effectiveness should they ever be needed.
- Student loan debt – One factor driving the increase in prenups, as well as its fair share of divorces, is student loan debt. Today’s millennials, who are often more educated than their predecessors, carry far more debt than their parents did, largely in the form of student loans. Whether it’s negotiating a pre- or post-marital agreement, or addressing matters of asset and debt division in divorce, student loans can be a significant concern that demands the insight of experienced attorneys.
- Negotiation over litigation – Generally, younger spouses who get divorced today are more likely to handle those divorces will greater efficiency and less animosity than their parents did. Driven by their practical views of marriage and the high rates of divorce they grew up with (divorce rates peaked in the 80s and 90s), millennials are more apt to negotiate divorce settlements rather than fight things out in court. For those who do choose to call it splits, working with attorneys who are skilled negotiators, and who have the ability to facilitate communication, compromise, and offer services like mediation can be important to reaching an amicable resolution.
- Unmarried couples – While unmarried couples, of which there are many among the millennial generation, don’t have to worry about divorce, that doesn’t mean they won’t have family law concerns of their own. These may include issues of separation when couples after years of cohabitation and when couples shared property or assets, as well as matters of child custody and parenting plans if they had children.
- Asset division – In addition to greater needs for addressing issues like student loan debt in divorce, millennials may also have needs regarding property division. That’s because millennials who wait to get married and / or have an education when they do are more likely to have accumulated assets prior to marriage, from random things of value to cars and even homes. Addressing how those assets will be divided can be a major issue in their divorce cases.
Schuttler, Greenberg & Mullins, LLC: Proven Boca Raton Divorce Lawyers
Schuttler, Greenberg & Mullins, LLC has earned a reputation for providing residents throughout Boca Raton and the surrounding communities of Florida with award-winning representation, as well as the personalized experience and support clients need, when they need it most. Whether you are a millennial, someone who may fit into the “gray divorce” category, or anyone with a divorce and family law matter that requires a thorough and thoughtful approach, our legal team is here to help!
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