Az marriage and divorce rates higher than national average
In its first look at marriage using detailed demographic data, the U.S. Census Bureau reports that Arizonans are slightly more likely to have gotten married in the previous year than the national average.
They also are significantly more likely to have gotten divorced during the previous year.
In 2009, roughly 20 out of 1,000 Arizona men and 19 out of 1,000 Arizona women had gotten married in the previous 12 months, just above the national averages of 19 men and 18 women, respectively.
Nearly 11 out of 1,000 men and 12 out of 1,000 women had gotten divorced during the previous year, exceeding the national averages of nine men and 10 women per 1,000.
Diana B. Elliott, a family demographer at the Census Bureau and co-author of the report, said that states where marriage rates are higher usually have higher divorce rates too.
“If there are a lot of married people in that state, there’s a larger pool of people who can potentially get divorced,” Elliott said in a phone interview.
Leslie Satterlee, a Phoenix family law attorney and board chair of Maricopa County Bar Association’s Family Law Section, said that because Arizona is a no-fault divorce state it’s easier for people who don’t have attorneys to get divorced than in other states.
“In Arizona, you don’t have to prove anything (such as adultery) in order to get the divorce,” she said.
Oliver Ross, owner and founder of Out-of-Court Solutions, a divorce mediation firm, said relocation may be a reason for higher-than-average divorce rates in the state.
“My sense is that if there’s already marital discord, there are additional stresses that are likely to be incurred when (people) relocate to a new state, especially in this economy,” Ross said.
Finding a new church and making new friends are likely to cause anxiety among couples, he said.
Arizona is one of 14 states where divorce rates are higher than the national average, according to the report, which used data from the 2009 American Community Survey.
Overall, marriage and divorce rates were higher in the West and the South than other parts of the country.
Those surveyed were asked whether they were married or divorced, how many times and for how long. The Census Bureau’s Elliott said the report fills a gap in national data, as the collection of information on marriage and divorce had decreased in quality over the years.
The Rev. Tex Sample, co-chair of Arizona Interfaith Network and pastor emeritus at Asbury United Methodist Church in Phoenix, said he wasn’t surprised by the state’s divorce rates.
“It is a classic sociological fact,” he said. “Economic hardship brings home family instability.”
Women are more likely than men to fall into poverty after they get divorced, according to the report. Nearly 22 percent of divorced women and 11 percent of divorced men had an income below poverty level in the 12 months preceding the survey.
Elliott said the Census Bureau found that divorce declined noticeably around the country between 2008 and 2009, but she couldn’t provide an explanation for it.
Satterlee, the family law attorney, said harsh economic times might keep people from getting divorced because of the cost.
“When the real estate market collapsed, not as many people were filing for divorce, at least with the help of an attorney,” Satterlee said. “Divorces are starting to pick up again, either because (people) are tired of waiting or because the economy is actually improving.”