Thousands of marriages end every day. Roughly 50% of all marriages in the United States result in divorce. Those numbers get even bigger when it comes to second and third marriages. And this is even as divorce rates have steadily declined across a majority of age groups since the late 1990s.
Digging into the divorce statistics on a county level presents an interesting portrait of the state of marriage and divorce in Washington, and some of what you find may be rather surprising.
Marriage Vs. Divorce: There were approximately 21,000 more marriages than there were divorces and annulments in 2014. 20,994 to be precise, as there were 45,841 new marriages and 24,847 that ended during the year.
Total Marriages: The number of marriages was actually down substantially from 2013 to 2014. The total fell from 49,590 in 2013 to 45,841 the following year. This marks a total drop of 3749 or a 7.56% plunge.
Divorce Statistics By The Numbers
Most Divorces: King County had the highest number of divorces and annulments in 2014 with 5558. This shouldn’t come as a terrible shock considering it is by far the most populous county in Washington, home to approximately 1.9 million residents.
Following King County, the top five counties in Washington, by the total number of divorces, are Lincoln County (3389), Pierce County (3024), Snohomish County (2070), and Spokane County (1602).
Again, this isn’t a huge surprise. King, Pierce, Snohomish, and Spokane Counties are, after all, the four most populated counties in the state. Looking at these divorce statistics, Lincoln County, with a population of just over 10,000, is the obvious outlier. More on that in a moment.
Fewest Divorces: As the only area to hit single-digits in 2014, Ferry County had the fewest divorces: 9. Rounding out the bottom five are, in order, Garfield County (16), Columbia County (19), Adams County (22), and Douglas County (30).
Like with the counties with the largest totals, the smallest numbers are not completely out of left field, as these represent some of the least populated counties in Washington. Ferry County is home to 7500 residents, while Garfield and Columbia counties host 2200 and 4000 citizens, respectively.
Though still on the smaller end of the spectrum, Adams and Douglas counties have substantially larger populations, approximately 18,000 and 38,000, respectively. On the other hand, Wahkiakum County, home to roughly only 3900, had 38 divorces despite being the second-least populous county in Washington.
Divorce Statistics By Population
Highest By Population: As stated earlier, Lincoln County boasted the second highest total of divorces in 2014 with 3389. With a population of just over 10,000, you may wonder what’s up in this rural farming community. No, 32% of the citizens didn’t file for divorce in a single year. In this case, the divorce statistics can be a bit misleading.
Courtesy of a rule first adopted in 1983, the Eastern Washington community is one of the few counties in the country where marriages can be dissolved by mail and without appearing in court. Neither party has to live in the county, though both have to agree to file there. As a result, it has become a mecca for couples seeking a quick, cheap, uncontested divorce. Filings for Washington residents looking for a streamlined divorce flood the courthouse, skewing the divorce statistics.
Lowest By Population: At the other end of the ruler from Lincoln County, Douglas County has the lowest divorce rate by population. With just over 38,000 residents, there were only 30 total divorces filed for in 2014. By the numbers, .07% of the population filed for divorce. To put this in perspective, Garfield County, Washington’s least populated state with only 2200 residents, saw .7% of the population file for divorce, while the most populous, King County, saw .28% of its 1.9 million residents do the same.
Changes In Divorce Statistics
Across the board, divorce statistics didn’t change a ton from 2013 to 2014. For example, Snohomish County, the third-most populated county in the state with north of 710,000 residents, had 2070 divorces and annulments in 2013, compared to 2073 in 2014. That said, there were some places where the numbers changed.
Biggest Jump: King County saw the biggest jump numbers wise, making the leap from 5334 divorces in 2013 to 5558 in 2014, for a net increase of 224. Percentage wise, Garfield County experienced a 62% bump over the same period, from 10 divorces in 2013 up to 16 in 2014.
Biggest Drop: Purely from a numbers perspective, Yakima County saw the biggest drop, down 230, falling from 743 divorces and annulments in 2013 to 513 in 2014. Both Adams and Asotin counties experienced a 64% decline from one year to the next. Adams went from 34 divorces to 22, while Asotin tumbled from 98 to 63.
Examining divorce statistics may not show the whole picture, but it does present an intriguing way to look at the dissolution of marriage. You may expect to find differences based on rural and urban areas, or from the West to the East side of the Cascade Mountains. Looking at the numbers, these expectations may or may not be met, but they do form an intriguing piece of the puzzle.