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How Do Divorce Statistics for Pennsylvania Compare with Other States’?

You may have heard about the divorce rate being so bad that more than half of all marriages end in divorce. While it appeared the trend toward more divorces was the norm for quite a while, as the American Psychological Association has attested to, the statistic hasn’t prevailed. Today, in fact, the divorce rate has gone down, not up.

Some states have retained much higher rates than others, of course, but Pennsylvania is a standout for being one of the very few with very low numbers as relates to divorces. Trying to compare Pennsylvania’s divorce rate with the other states’ rates in order to understand why its numbers are lower and what it all means is difficult to do. The reason is that when you look at the statistics across all the states, you’d be hard-pressed to find any type of commonality, or common denominator. That said, here are the states with the highest divorce rates and the states with the lowest divorce rates.

States with the Highest Divorce Rates

Research conducted in 2016 by Statistic Brain, a data-gathering online organization, reveals that U.S. divorce rate statistics are anything but what you’d likely expect. With as many divorces seemingly taking place in California, most people conclude almost matter of factly that the Golden State, with its Hollywood luminaries parting ways virtually every day, easily tops the list. However, that’s not true.

The facts and statistics database organization relied on data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Survey of Family Growth to uncover that Tennessee was one of the states with the highest divorce rates, at 12.5 percent, and it shared that distinction with, among others, Arkansas and Kentucky. Wyoming and Vermont were the next highest, each at 12.6 percent. Oregon and Oklahoma rounded out the group of high 12 percenters. At 13.6 percent, Maine followed, but the state with highest divorce rate was Nevada, at 14.2 percent.

States with the Lowest Divorce Rates

Not everyone’s rushing to sever their marital relationship with their spouse and seek a divorce. The residents of some states have shown a greater appetite for sticking it through and have been more resistant to going through the difficulty of a divorce, according to the 2016 data collected from Statistic Brain. In Minnesota, only 9.7 percent sought a divorce. Virginia saw 9.6 percent and Illinois saw 9.5 percent pursue a fault or no-fault option out of their union.

Where would you place Hawaii? Perhaps it’s no surprise to you that it’s on the lowest list, and it sits right in the middle of the pack, at 9.4 percent, right along with Utah. Other states faired even better, though, and that’s where Pennsylvania comes in. The home of the chocolate maker The Hershey’s Company and the legendary original Philly cheesesteak sandwiches saw a 9.2 percent rate. Utah and Pennsylvania coincidentally are both states that allow common law marriages (there are only 16 states that permit this), which means couples in these types of unions are still technically married and thus they are required to get a divorce to end their union.

Continuing the list, Massachusetts followed, at 9.1 percent. New York enjoyed a low 8.4 percent and New Jersey, 8.2 percent. The state with the absolute lowest divorce rate was North Dakota, at 8.1 percent.

Pennsylvania Divorce Rate Trends

Pennsylvania enjoyed low divorce rate numbers, and it also has seen its overall divorce and annulment numbers improve. In 2015, the Keystone State had a total of 33,600 divorces and annulments, according to Pennsylvania Marriage and Divorce Statistics 2016 from the Pennsylvania Department of Health’s Division of Health Informatics. The last time it had a number lower than that for divorces and annulments was all the way back in 1974, when it had close to 32,900. While the numbers have gone up considerably during those approximately 40 years—in 1991, it saw its highest number, at about 41,300 divorces and annulments—it’s remarkable that they have come all the way back down.


Divorce is never a pleasant topic of conversation. Too often, the statistics are depressing, so hearing low divorce rate numbers coming out of Pennsylvania, as well as other states, and hearing that the divorce rate nationally is ebbing is certainly hope-inspiring. For Pennsylvanians and others who still feel they must obtain a separation or divorce, having an effective legal strategy can enable them to dissolve their union swiftly and painlessly. Pennsylvanians may also want to visit for free information regarding Pennsylvania’s divorce laws.

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