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What are the odds you’ll get divorced?

A look at Wisconsin’s divorce rate

You’ve no doubt heard that half of all marriages end in divorce, and perhaps you’ve wondered if your odds are any better in Wisconsin. Good news: they are!

First, though, it isn’t true that half of all marriages end in divorce. Divorce rates have been in a downtrend, and today it’s closer to 25%. If you’re planning on marrying, there’s a 75% chance you’ll never get divorced.

The most recent available census data on divorces in Wisconsin (2020) show there were 2.1 divorces per 1,000 residents (over the age of 15) – which qualifies as one of the lowest divorce rates in the country.

However, a more relevant statistic would be the total number of divorces compared to the total number of couples becoming married. There are still more Wisconsinites marrying than divorcing, but the ratio has decreased since 1920 when there were 9.2 marriages for every divorce. In 1960, the ratio was 6.7 marriages to every divorce; then 2.2 to 1 in 1990; and 2.1 to 1 in 2000. In 2021, the most recent year for data, the marriage-to-divorce ratio in Wisconsin was about 2.2 to 1.

1990 – 2022 Divorce Rate in Wisconsinper 1,000 Inhabitants*

Risk Factors for Divorce

There are countless and valid reasons a married couple decides to get a divorce, but some are statistically more likely to cause a split. These risk factors to marriage include:

  • Money Few things drive a wedge between a couple more than money issues—whether it’s a lack of money or disputes over how money is spent.
  • Higher-order marriages These are second or third marriages, and as you can imagine they involve both parties bringing more baggage into the marriage. The risk is progressive, with a third marriage being at greater risk of divorce than a second.
  • The “seven-year itch” The fourth through seventh years of marriage tend to be those with the greatest incidence of divorce. During these years, the rate of couples divorcing peaks at 3%. The divorce rate runs 2% to 3% until the 15th year of marriage, after which there’s a 0% to 1% chance of divorce.

Top ten Wisconsin cities with the highest divorce rates

The following Wisconsin cities have a statistically higher risk of divorce than other WI cities. Please note: While it may be interesting to compare geographical data related to divorces, it shouldn’t be assumed that these locations are poor environments for a happy marriage – a myriad of other factors must be considered first.

  • Fox Point (17%)
  • Pewaukee (16%)
  • Wisconsin Rapids (14%)
  • Slinger (14%)
  • Two Rivers (14%)
  • Antigo (13%)
  • Jackson (13%)
  • New London (13%)
  • Delafield (12%)
  • Sparta (12%)

Are younger people less likely to get divorced?

Statistically, the U.S. divorce rate of younger people is lower, and the trend is toward lower divorce rates overall. The decreasing marriage rate is a contributing factor. Whatever the reason, the post-baby boom generation (those born after 1964) has shown to be less likely to divorce. While the divorce rate over the past decade has fallen 18%, people younger than 45 account for virtually all of that decline.

There are good reasons to not get divorced…

Married couples and their children have higher incomes, more stability, and greater economic security than people who aren’t married or who are divorced. Additionally, numerous studies have shown that children who grow up in an intact family fare better academically, emotionally and professionally. If your marriage is floundering, counseling, separation, or mediation may be a better alternative than in-court divorce proceedings.

…And good reasons to get divorced

Unfortunately, some marriages just cannot be fixed. A couple whose life together has, for whatever reason, become unbearable should not feel obliged to “tough it out.” In those situations, divorce may be the best solution. Ideally, a divorce should be the one thing the couple can agree on.




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