Arizona Divorce Statistics - Reppucci Roeder
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June 29, 2022

An Analysis of the Arizona Divorce Stats and Rate

Divorce and Family Law

Arizona Divorce Stats

Divorce is an unfortunate reality for many adults throughout the world, including Arizona. There are many reasons couples pursue a divorce. Whether the inciting reasons are clear and divorce results from infidelity, abuse, or neglect, or the divorce is simply a matter of “growing apart,” losing passion, or developing newer and differing goals from one another, divorce is the primary way to legally dissolve a marriage. It’s important to keep in mind that in Arizona, as in many places, there may be some additional underlying factors resulting from changing cultures and worldviews.

Arizona consistently ranks higher than other area states for divorce rates in the United States. Though it does not top the charts, the Arizona divorce rate is higher than you might expect and remains in the top fourteen. Sierra Vista, a relatively small city both by state and national standards, has even ranked as high as the second-highest city for its divorce rates, and it’s not even the most surprising city when it comes to these stats.

Guadalupe, with its population of only around 5,000 people, has a shockingly high rate of divorce at 11.0% of all married couples. Because marriage rates are generally high as well, divorce rates have increased throughout the state as time goes by. Here are more statistics you should know about when it comes to divorce stats in Arizona, and the details might surprise you.

 

Divorce Stats in Arizona

According to studies conducted by the United States Census Bureau, Arizona’s divorce rate in 2019, following the most recent publication, was 8.2% of the overall 15-and-older population of the state. While these numbers might not look that interesting from the surface, as they are comparable with other states, you see just how Arizona stacks up. A majority of the other states never exceed 8.0%, remaining in the 6%-7% range. [1]U.S. Census Bureau (2019). State Marriage and Divorce Rate Statistical Testing: 2009 and 2019.Census.gov Report. Retrieved June 6th, 2022, from … Continue reading A deeper analysis of the state’s statistics and demographics will explain why the numbers have stayed as high as they have.

 

Who’s Getting Divorced, and Why?

There are many reasons for divorce, not all of them cultural in nature. Even so, when looking at how divorce statistics have changed over the decades in the United States, some helpful and insightful trends begin to emerge.

 

Feminism and Liberal Politics

To start, most divorces in Arizona occur between middle-aged couples or older. Statistically, younger couples tend to remain more stable. The reasons behind this tend to be complex, though much of it is the result of changing cultural norms, laws, and gender roles. Over the decades, studies have been published that lend credence to the long-established assumptions that once it became easier to escape a bad marriage, thousands of women who were previously trapped began to file for divorces later in life.

A report dating back to 1990 observed that many women feel rewarded by divorce, breaking long-standing stereotypes of having stronger emotions regarding divorce and marital hardship than do their ex-husbands. Their peace and relief come as they disrupt traditional gender roles, many of which may have defined their struggling marriages. [2]Riessman, C. K. (1990). Divorce talk: Women and men make sense of personal relationships. APA Psychinfo, Rutgers University Press. Retrieved June 2nd, 2022, from … Continue reading

Feminism and Liberal Politics in AZ

In a similar vein, an article published in 1992 focused on the idea that a feminist model of family life doesn’t match up with more traditionalist views on marriage and femininity, especially where it concerns the role of the wife in the household and the desire to be more than just a homemaker. [3]Allen, K. R., & Baber, K. M. (1992). Starting a Revolution in Family Life Education: A Feminist Vision. Family Relations, 41(4), 378–384.https://doi.org/10.2307/585577

More often than not, when you look at cultures and societies more concerned with tradition, they tend to involve stronger patriarchal beliefs and, by today’s standards, difficult or outright illegal divorce practices. Italy is an example of one such society, where women were stuck in patriarchal relationships as defined by their society’s marriage contract, and liberal efforts to change these laws were continually shot down by traditionalists. [4]Seymour, M. (2005). Keystone of the Patriarchal Family? Indissoluble marriage, masculinity and divorce in Liberal Italy. Journal of Modern Italian Studies, 10(3), … Continue reading

The evidence doesn’t lie; divorce is far more common in liberal and feminist cultures. As Arizona’s political landscape and increasingly liberal demographics have ebbed away from the more traditional conservatism that has long been present in the state, the Arizona divorce rate has justifiably followed suit.

Arizona’s political spectrum has never been completely one-sided. While the state has traditionally voted red throughout all presidential elections, the majority voted for Biden in 2020, with the blue only just barely gaining the popular vote for the first time. Though liberal voters could never quite make up the majority prior to 2020, when you look more closely at election statistics, Arizona’s Democratic population has been almost as large as the Republican population for several years. Arizona has never quite been entirely liberal or entirely conservative, but liberal ideologies and culture that influence divorce stats in Arizona have long been present and continue to grow in the state.

 

Religion

Similarly, the religious spectrum of Arizona is diverse. While Christianity is the largest religion in the state, the second largest group considers themselves “unaffiliated,” a term for the non-religious who don’t claim to believe in or practice any particular religion. Even amongst the religious, however, only about half believe that religion is important to their lives, and a majority don’t participate in scripture studies, daily church visits, or prayer, relying on cultural norms for their morals rather than the Bible. [5]Pew Research Center. (2022, March 31).Religious landscape study.Pew Research Center’s Religion & Public Life Project. Retrieved June 2, 2022, from … Continue reading

In contrast, the more religious areas tend to restrict divorces, where marriage equality reforms have historically been opposed by conservatives who believe more closely in the religious laws. As such, religious conservatives believe that allowing women (or men) to pursue divorce will undermine the family structure. [6]Carlisle, J. (2018). Muslim divorce in the mena: Shari‘a, codification, state feminism, and the courts. Muslim Divorce in the Middle East, 1–31. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-77007-9_1

 

Sexuality

While the US essentially legalized gay marriage in 2016, Arizona was ahead of the curve, legalizing it in 2014. This preemptive cultural shift in Arizona’s politics is characteristic of its quickly evolving cultural norms. Arizona’s tendency toward rapid growth and cultural transitions has several implications with regard to its divorce statistics.

In general, across the United States, the rates for divorce among same-sex couples are slightly lower than opposite-sex ones, at a rate of 1.6% compared with 2%. [7]Badgett, M.V., Mallory, C., (2020). Patterns of relationship recognition for same-sex couples: Divorce and terminations.UCLA School of Law, Williams Institute. Retrieved June 2, 2022, from … Continue reading This difference might not seem major, but on a wide scale, it can play a big role in influencing divorce statistics.

A report by the UCLA Williams Institute showed that Arizona had about 15,000 same-sex marriages as of 2019. With about 5.3 of the 7 million adults in the state being married that year according to a CDC report, that accounts for roughly 370,000 marriages, 4% of which were same-sex. Additionally, Arizona’s marriage rate went up in 2014 while its divorce rate remained static before steadily declining. [8]National Center for Health Statistics. (2021) Marriage rates by State: 1990, 1995, and 1999-2020. National Vital Statistics System. Public-use data file and documentation. Retrieved June 2nd, 2022, … Continue reading

 

Race

Arizona is relatively diverse. While still predominantly White, roughly 20% of the state’s racial demographics are non-white, comprising most of Black, Asian, Native American, and mixed nationalities. Over a quarter of the population of Phoenix, the state’s capital and largest metropolitan area, comprises groups that were once minorities.

Black women have a higher divorce rate

Divorce rates are often influenced by populations with higher rates of diversity. Generally, Non-white women get divorced more often than White women do, with Black women even having a higher divorce rate than marriage rate in 2018. [9]Schweizer, V., (2018). Marriage to divorce ratio in the U.S.: Demographic variation, 2018 Bowling Green State University National Center for Family & Marriage Research (NCFMR). Retrieved June 2, … Continue reading Arizona’s more diverse racial makeup influences the relatively higher divorce rate.

 

Post-Pandemic Trends

In 2020, American culture and domestic life were shaken up by the COVID-19 pandemic, which forced millions to stay quarantined in their homes. For many, this resulted in being stuck in close quarters with their families for months without working, during a simultaneous decline in mental health. In the beginning, it was predicted that the pandemic would create a massive boom of divorces due to these two factors.

A study from 2022 assessed how relationships functioned before and during the pandemic and quarantine. The study reached some surprising results. While pandemic stress did have a negative impact on relationships, many couples remained healthy and able to cope. In fact, that predicted “surge of divorces” never actually came, with some states even seeing lower divorce rates in 2020 than in 2019 and 2018.

strengthening relationships

This is because the pandemic, while stressful, also offered couples something external against which to team up, more broadly strengthening relationships than weakening them. Those who stayed together are the ones who adopted good communication and stress-relieving habits. A lot more couples than initially expected were able to adopt these habits. [10]Pietromonaco, P. R., Overall, N. C. (2022). Implications of social isolation, separation, and loss during the COVID-19 pandemic for couples’ relationships. Current Opinion in Psychology, 43, … Continue reading

While it might be a bit of a surprise that Arizona’s rates remained mostly average in 2020, the state continued to follow the patterns seen elsewhere in the country. [11]US Census Bureau. (2020). Divorces In The Last Year By Sex Marital Status For The Population 15 Years And Over.Explore Census Data. Retrieved June 2, 2022, from … Continue reading There’s simply no clear evidence that the pandemic affected the divorce rate in Arizona or in America as a whole in the ways predicted.

References

References
1 U.S. Census Bureau (2019). State Marriage and Divorce Rate Statistical Testing: 2009 and 2019.Census.gov Report. Retrieved June 6th, 2022, from https://www.census.gov/data/tables/time-series/demo/marriage-and-divorce/state-marriage-divorce-rates.html
2 Riessman, C. K. (1990). Divorce talk: Women and men make sense of personal relationships. APA Psychinfo, Rutgers University Press. Retrieved June 2nd, 2022, from https://psycnet.apa.org/record/1990-97524-000
3 Allen, K. R., & Baber, K. M. (1992). Starting a Revolution in Family Life Education: A Feminist Vision. Family Relations, 41(4), 378–384.https://doi.org/10.2307/585577
4 Seymour, M. (2005). Keystone of the Patriarchal Family? Indissoluble marriage, masculinity and divorce in Liberal Italy. Journal of Modern Italian Studies, 10(3), 297–313.https://doi.org/10.1080/13545710500188247
5 Pew Research Center. (2022, March 31).Religious landscape study.Pew Research Center’s Religion & Public Life Project. Retrieved June 2, 2022, from https://www.pewresearch.org/religion/religious-landscape-study/state/arizona/
6 Carlisle, J. (2018). Muslim divorce in the mena: Shari‘a, codification, state feminism, and the courts. Muslim Divorce in the Middle East, 1–31. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-77007-9_1
7 Badgett, M.V., Mallory, C., (2020). Patterns of relationship recognition for same-sex couples: Divorce and terminations.UCLA School of Law, Williams Institute. Retrieved June 2, 2022, from https://williamsinstitute.law.ucla.edu/publications/patt-relat-recog-ss-couple-divorce/
8 National Center for Health Statistics. (2021) Marriage rates by State: 1990, 1995, and 1999-2020. National Vital Statistics System. Public-use data file and documentation. Retrieved June 2nd, 2022, from https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/dvs/state-marriage-rates-90-95-99-20.pdf
9 Schweizer, V., (2018). Marriage to divorce ratio in the U.S.: Demographic variation, 2018 Bowling Green State University National Center for Family & Marriage Research (NCFMR). Retrieved June 2, 2022, from https://www.bgsu.edu/ncfmr/resources/data/family-profiles/schweizer-marriage-divorce-ratio-demo-variation-fp-19-27.html
10 Pietromonaco, P. R., Overall, N. C. (2022). Implications of social isolation, separation, and loss during the COVID-19 pandemic for couples’ relationships. Current Opinion in Psychology, 43, 189–194. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.copsyc.2021.07.014
11 US Census Bureau. (2020). Divorces In The Last Year By Sex Marital Status For The Population 15 Years And Over.Explore Census Data. Retrieved June 2, 2022, from https://www2.census.gov/programs-surveys/demo/tables/families/time-series/marital/ms1.xls
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