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Family and household structures have been evolving gradually over the past few decades. Divorce facts show ending a marriage is quite common.

Since most marriages involve children, the number of children of divorce is rising, too. At the same time, many parents are opting to raise children on their own or in a cohabiting household.

Here’s the thing:

Children of divorce statistics reveal those children are living in a variety of households. Not all of them live with their parents. Some live with their extended family or with one of their parents in blended households.

Many professionals address the divorce impact on children and stress the adverse effects that divorce can have on their wellbeing. 

At The High Court, we decided to find out more about the issue by digging deep into the latest stats.

Fascinating Family Separation Statistics (Editor’s Picks)

  • The US has the world’s highest rate (23%) of children living in single-parent households.
  • 8% of US children live in extended families.
  • 65% of children in the US lived with two married parents in 2017.
  • About 21,000 children under the age of one were living with their divorced, single fathers in 2019.
  • In 2018, about 780,000 divorces took place in the United States.
  • In 2018, the divorce rate in the US stood at 2.90 divorces per 1,000 people.
  • 33% of Millennial mothers who live with their children are unmarried.

US Household Statistics

1. The US has the world’s highest rate (23%) of children living in single-parent households.

(Source: PEW)

The number of children living with a single parent in the US has been rising for decades. A global study of 130 countries and territories examined the rate of children living in single-parent households in 2019.

Here’s what it found:

Nearly one-quarter of American children lived with one parent and no other adults (23%). That’s more than three times the share of children around the world (7%). In contrast, 5% of children in India, 4% of children in Nigeria, and only 3% of children in China live in single-parent households. In Canada, the figure is 15%.

2. 8% of US children live in extended families, children of divorce statistics reveal.

(Source: PEW)

Globally, 38% of children live in extended families, including uncles, aunts, and grandparents. That’s a massive difference from the current situation in the US.

Keep in mind that there are various ways of defining single-parent households, though. In its report, the PEW Research Center defines single-parent households as those where a sole adult lives with one biological, step, or foster child under the age of 18. 

In contrast, the US Census Bureau includes households where grandparents, other relatives, or cohabiting partners are present.

3. 24 million children in the United States live with an unmarried parent.

(Source: PEW)

Additionally, 21% or 15 million live in a household with a solo mother, children of divorce statistics confirm.  In 1968, the percentage stood at 12% of children (8 million).

And that’s not all:

Altogether, one-third of children in the United States live with an unmarried parent. 

The share of children in the US living with an unmarried parent has more than doubled since 1969, from 13% to 32% in 2017. 

Such data became publicly available for the first time in 1968. That year, 9 million children were living with an unmarried parent. 

4. 5 million (7%) children live with cohabiting parents.

(Source: PEW)

That’s double the figure in 1997 when census data on cohabitation became available. Living with a solo father are 3 million children (4%), up from 1% in 1968.

Now:

The key factor here is the parent with whom the children live most of the time. In case they split their time equally between two households, they are classified based on where they were at the time of the data collection.

5. 65% of children in the US lived with two married parents in 2017.

(Source: PEW) 

Meanwhile, the share of children in the US living with two married parents has fallen from 85% in 1968 to 65% in 2017. Additionally, about 3% of children were not living with either parent. If these marriages end in divorce, they will significantly impact the children from broken homes data.

6. 33% of Millennial mothers who live with their children are unmarried.

(Source: PEW)

Millennial moms are less likely than mothers from previous generations to be married. About one-third (33%) of those living with their children (younger than 18) are unmarried. In contrast, 29% of Gen X mothers living with their children were unmarried at a similar age. That was the case for 23% of Boomer moms and only 9% of Silent moms.

But wait! There’s more:

Millennial mothers without a college degree (44%) are more likely to be unmarried than those with a college education (14%). There are also significant differences when it comes to race and ethnicity among Millennial moms – black women (67%) are more likely to be unmarried than Hispanic women (39%), white women (24%), or Asian women (11%).


Children and Divorce Statistics

7. About 21,000 children under the age of one were living with their divorced, single fathers in 2019.

(Source: Statista, PEW)

A third of Millennial men live in a household with children of their own. 40% of Millennial men, aged between 22 and 37, said they had fathered a child. 

Another way to approach this matter is by looking at the share of men who report living with their children at home. However, these numbers do not specify if these are biological, adopted, or stepchildren. Anyhow, some 21,000 children under the age of one were living with their divorced, single fathers in 2019.

8. Divorce and children statistics show that one-in-five children born in wedlock will experience a parental breakup by the age of nine.

(Source: PEW)

In part, this is due to the rising percentage of divorced parents and increases in births outside of marriage. As a result, the number of American children living with either solo or cohabiting parents is rising. 

Also, the number of children spending part of their childhood in an unmarried parent household is increasing, even if they were born to two married parents. So, it should come as no surprise that nearly 20% of children born to married parents will experience a parental breakup by the time they’re nine. The same goes for children born within a cohabiting union.

9. According to children of divorce statistics, 31% of children younger than six have experienced a change in their family or household structure.

(Source: PEW)

A study conducted over a period of three years found that three in ten children experienced a change in the structure of their family of household by the time they were six. It may be a parental divorce, cohabitation, marriage, separation, or death. 


US Divorce Statistics

children of divorce statistics

10. Divorce rates in the US increased from 2.2 per 1,000 people in 1960 to 5.30 per 1,000 in 1981.

(Source: GSS)

What percentage of marriages fail?

Let’s take a closer look at how historical statistics on divorces in the US and overseas compare to try and find out.

Globally, there has been an increase in divorce rates since the 1970s. However, trends vary from country to country.

Here’s the deal:

Divorce rates in the US peaked at 5.30 per 1,000 people in 1979 and 1981. At the time, rising levels of domestic violence were also a big issue. However, there has been a steady decline since then.

In contrast, UK divorce rates continued to rise until 1996, peaking at 3.00 per 1,000 people.

In Mexico and Turkey, the divorce rate continues to rise. 

All in all:

Divorce rates increased in 18 OECD countries and fell in 12 other countries between 1995 and 2017. The analysis also takes into account second marriage stats.

11. In 2018, there were about 780,000 divorces in the United States.

(Source: Statista)

Divorce usually involves resolving issues like property distribution, spouse financial support, child support, and child custody. Divorce laws vary between states. In 2018, about 780,000 divorces were conducted in the United States. Divorced parents statistics are not specified, but divorce after baby statistics are included in the statistic.

12. In 2018, the divorce rate in the US stood at 2.90 per 1,000 people.

(Source: Statista)

The statistics on broken families show that both marriage and divorce rates in the US have been falling in the past couple of decades. On average, a first marriage in the U.S. was lasted for eight years as of 2009, with men going through their first divorce at the age of 32 and women at 30 on average.

13. Stats of divorce show Nevada has the highest divorce rate in the US – 4.4 per 1,000 people.

(Source: Statista)

With Las Vegas as one of the most popular (and easiest) destinations to get married, it should come as no surprise that Nevada had the highest marriage rate in 2018

But what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas, right?

As it turns out, the same goes for quite a few marriages.

According to broken family statistics, Nevada also has the highest divorce rate in the US, 4.4 divorces per 1,000 people. In the Silver State, it’s not necessary for couples to explain the reason for divorce.

14. 76% of Americans think getting a divorce is morally acceptable.

(Source: Statista)

Even though more than three-quarters of Americans see no problem with divorce, the divorce rate is actually falling, as we noted earlier. On the other hand, the statistics of divorces show 20% of respondents consider getting a divorce is morally wrong. For 3%, it depends on the situation, whereas 1% have no opinion on the subject.

15. The odds of divorce for the parents of boys aged 13 to 18 are 10.7%.

(Source: The Conversation)

According to the child of divorced parents statistics, the risk of divorce for parents of girls and boys up until the age of 12 is pretty much the same. 

However, when children are older, between 13 and 18, the parents of first-born girls are more likely to divorce than the parents of first-born boys. The odds are 11.3% for parents of girls and 10.7% for parents of boys. 


Child Custody Statistics

16. Child custody stats show 4.64 million single parents in the US had custody and received child support in 2011. 

(Source: Statista)

This statistic on divorce shows the number of single custodial parents who took custody and received child support for their children in 2011. When we look at the period from 1993 to 2011, the numbers peaked at just under 5.55 million in 2003. The smallest number, 4.17 million, was recorded in 2009

17. In 2014, there were more than 13.4 million parents separated from their child’s other parent. 

(Source: Business Insider)

These were parents of children under the age of 21. The same year, five out of six custodial parents were mothers. Half of them received child support.

18. In 2017, the average child support payment in the US was $460 per month, divorce child custody statistics reveal.

(Source: Census, Business Insider)

However, this may vary depending on the custodial and noncustodial parents’ incomes. Also, 30% of the payments are evaded completely. Lastly, less than half of all support payments are fully paid.


Effects of Divorce on Children Statistics

19. There is a 16% increase in behavioral and emotional problems amongst children of divorced parents aged 7 to 14.

(Source: The Guardian)

A University College London study examined the effects of divorce on children’s behavior. The findings revealed that children whose parents divorced when they were between the age of 7 and 14 are considerably more likely to experience behavioral and emotional issues. The divorced parents effect on a child results in a worrying 16% increase in such problems.

20. Custodial mothers may lose between 25% and 50% of their pre-divorce incomes.

(Source: VeryWell)

To understand how divorce affects children, we also have to consider the financial implications. After all, kids with divorced parents often lose some economic security. In fact, a 2014 study found that custodial mothers may lose as much as 25%-50% of their pre-divorce incomes.


Wrap Up

From the latest available American family separation statistics, we can conclude that more and more children are living with a single parent and going through a parental break up or a change in family structure. 

That being said: 

It’s also notable that the US divorce rate has been falling in the past decades. Unfortunately, children suffer the most from such experiences, and many studies confirm the negative effects of divorce on teenagers and children at any age.


FAQ 

Q: Approximately how many American marriages end in divorce?

Divorce percentages in the US are decreasing. In 2018, the divorce rate stood at 2.9 divorces per 1,000 people. The same year, there were about 780,000 divorces in the United States. Overall, approximately 39% of American marriages will end in divorce.

Q: What are the effects of divorce on children?

Growing up with divorced parents and divorce in general has many negative effects on children. Children may have to deal with poor performance in school, lose interest in social activity, and experience challenges in adapting to change. Also, children may become emotionally sensitive, experience anger, feelings of guilt, health issues, and loss of faith in the family unit and marriage. Some may even try to run away from home.

Q: At what age is a child most affected by divorce?

Professionals say divorce effects on children and the potential for emotional trauma are at their highest for kids at the age of 11. If the divorce is messy and there is conflict, things will get even worse.

Q: What percentage of children in the US live in “blended families”?

15% of children (10.6 million) live in blended families, children of divorce statistics reveal. Half of them (5.1 million) live with at least one step-parent. 

Sources:

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