Divorce rate over time
Divorce rates have fallen below the heightened levels of the 1980s and 1990s, potentially indicating the “divorce revolution” has come to an end. This has not brought a return to an earlier era in which divorce was both uncommon and controversial — instead, as the number of marital dissolutions dwindles, a record percentage of Americans view the practice as morally acceptable.
But both of these trends — the falling rate and rising acceptance of divorce — are likely signs of a larger, more significant shift: society’s changing attitudes regarding marriage. As divorce rates have fallen, so too have marriage rates as young adults delay marriage. And across all age groups, the practice of cohabitation has risen considerably, according to Pew Research. Gallup has also found that Americans are less likely to believe it is important for couples who want to live together or have a child together to get married.
As U.S. adults come to see marriage differently than in the past, it seems natural that they will view divorce differently too. It may be that both marriage and divorce are no longer viewed in moral terms, but rather seen as legal or formal processes.