Divorce and alimony figures are more than just numbers on a piece of paper. When you look at them, please keep in mind that these numbers represent real people. When a marriage breaks down, there is a real human cost associated with it.
General Divorce Statistics
Divorce Statistics in the United States
In 2005, over 2.2 million marriages took place in the United States. The marriage rate was 7.5 per 1,000/population. The divorce rate was 3.6 per 1,000/population.This figure (3.6 per 1,000/population) was lower than the divorce rate in both 2000 (when it was 4.2 per 1,000/population) and 1990 (when the rate hit 4.7 per 1,000/population).
Canadian Divorce Statistics
According to Statistics Canada, 149,236 marriages took places in 2006. 70,828 divorces were granted in 2003. This number was down from the year 2000, when 71,144 couples were divorced. Statistically, one in three marriages will end in divorce before the 30th wedding anniversary.
Divorce Statistics in the United Kingdom
The number of divorces declined by eight percent in 2005 over the previous year. When the divorce statistics were broken down by age, couples in the 25-29 age group were more likely than older Brits to get divorced. The exception to this finding was for women aged 60+. The divorce rate for this age group increased by two percent.
There were 155,052 divorces granted in the whole of the UK. In Scotland the rate dropped by three percent (10,940 divorces), and in Northern Ireland the rate was down six percent (2,362).
Alimony in the United States
It's difficult to collect alimony figures on the number of people making or receiving alimony payments in the United States, since census figures do not include alimony. Those numbers have not been collected since the early 1990s.
Some surveys conducted since that time have revealed that over 450,000 people receive alimony payments.
In the past, a former spouse was awarded alimony until she remarried or died. This is no longer the case. Each case where alimony is being requested is decided on its own merits. A person who has been in a long-term marriage is more likely to be awarded alimony than someone who was only married for a short time.
Even if alimony is awarded, it is expected that the recipient will take steps to become self-supporting in a reasonable amount of time. The judge will direct that alimony will be paid for a specific period of time to allow the recipient to upgrade their education or pursue a training course.
If there is a reason why the person receiving alimony cannot reasonably be expected to become self-supporting because of their age or a disability, then a judge may award permanent alimony. In a situation where the recipient of the support has taken reasonable steps to raise their standard of living and there is still a great discrepancy between the lifestyles of their former spouse and themselves, a judge may also choose to make a ruling for permanent alimony.
Alimony Figures in Canada
In Canada, alimony is known as spousal support. The person receiving the support is legally obligated to report it as income, while the party making the payments is entitled to deduct them from their total income at tax time.
Since the mid-1980s, the number of people receiving support payments has been increasing. In the 10-year period between 1986 and 1996, the number of Canadians receiving spousal support increased by just over 55 percent. The number of people making the payments also increased (by over 47 percent).