It has been long believed that the United States’ divorce rates have been steadily declining since the late 1970s. But new information brought to light by a recent study and changes to census practices has suggested the opposite may be true. Divorce here in Illinois and across the nation may actually be on the rise, particularly among the elderly.

The answer to the question of why the statistics were so skewed the wrong direction for three decades pertains directly to how the census gathers data. As late as 2007, no divorce-related questions were even included. Since 2008, it has been easier to collate data on marital separations and their frequency. The results show that not only is the divorce rate on a whole steadily rising, it seems centered not just on second or third marriages but first marriages that have endured for decades.

The census data has been further influenced by the trend in the last twenty or so years that leads young people to cohabitate rather than seek a traditional marriage scenario. As a result, the numbers of unmarried individuals are greatly inflated, influencing the divorce rate. The answer, some experts have suggested, is to seek out the data that details breakups of cohabitation in contrast to divorce statistics to get a better sense of the state of so-called marital stability.

A rise in divorce rates may be the impetus for some Illinois couples to consider the option in their own relationships. If this is the case, it can be beneficial for both parties to fully understand their responsibilities before approaching the negotiation table. This can help to smooth the road to an amicable separation.

Source: The Huffington Post, Is the US Divorce Rate Going Up Rather Than Going Down?, Robert Hughes, Jr., Mar. 6, 2014