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Image shows a person signing divorce documents. 2021 SmartAsset Study: Where Divorces Are Becoming More Common

Divorce can be a pricey proposition – according to a 2019 survey by the legal website Nolo, the average cost of a divorce is around $12,900, including more than $11,000 in attorney’s fees. Divorce at ages 50 and older – often known as gray divorce – may especially lead to various levels of financial insecurity. Nationally, the divorce rate has remained flat over the past several years. This isn’t the case in all cities, however, so with that in mind, SmartAsset set out to identify where divorce rates have been rising in recent years.

To identify and rank the cities where more people are getting divorced, we considered the following metrics: 2019 divorce rate, five-year change in divorce rate and one-year change in divorce rate. For more details on how we found and analyzed our data, read the Data and Methodology section below.

Key Findings

  • Divorce is down nationally. In 2014, the divorce rate was 11.0%. By 2018, that had gone down to 10.9%, a rate which held steady in 2019. The city which was seen the biggest jump over five years was Hialeah, Florida, where the divorce rate went from 9.7% to 13.9% between 2014 and 2019 (peaking with a higher rate of 14.7% in 2018).
  • The top 10 shows geographic diversity. There doesn’t seem to be a single region where divorce is happening more frequently. The top 10 of this list includes cities in the South, the Midwest, the Southwest and the West Coast. The only major regions not represented in the top 10 are the Northeast and the Mid Atlantic.

Image is a map by SmartAsset titled "Top 10 Cities Where Divorces Are Becoming More Common."

1. New Orleans, LA

In 2018, the divorce rate in New Orleans, Louisiana was 11.0%. By 2019, it had gone up to 14.0%. This 3.0% jump is the biggest one-year rate change across all 100 cities in the study. The five-year jump from 2014 to 2019 was the second-highest, with a 2.0% increase. Additionally, the city has the 11th-highest 2019 divorce rate overall.

2. Spokane, WA

Spokane, Washington had a divorce rate of 17.2% in 2019, the highest rate for this metric in this study. The divorce rate was 15.7% in both 2014 and 2018 – this 1.5% jump is the sixth-highest five-year increase and the eighth-highest one-year increase overall.

3. Tampa, FL

Tampa, Florida had the eighth-highest 2019 divorce rate in this study (14.4%). That’s a 2.2% jump from the rate of 12.2% in 2018, the third-highest rate for this metric overall. The city also ranks eighth-highest for five-year increase, going up 1.1% from a rate of 13.3% in 2014.

4. Corpus Christi, TX

Corpus Christi, Texas ranks 13th-highest in this study for 2019 divorce rate (13.9%), but that is a five-year jump of 1.5% and a one-year jump of 1.7% – ranked fifth- and fourth-highest, respectively.

5. Mesa, AZ (tie)

Mesa, Arizona’s 2019 divorce rate was 13.0%, the 25th-highest rate for this metric, just at the edge of the upper quartile. That’s a 1.6% jump from the 2018 rate of 11.4%, which is the fifth-biggest one-year jump we observed in this study.

5. Aurora, CO (tie)

Aurora, Colorado’s divorce rate in 2019 was 13.5%, 19th among the cities examined here. In 2018, though, the rate was just 10.9%. This means the rate increased 2.6% in one year, the second-highest one-year jump in our study.

7. Sacramento, CA

Sacramento, the capital of California, had a divorce rate of just 12.3% in 2019, ranking well outside of the top quartile of this study at 36th-highest. The rate jumped 1.5% in one year (2018-2019) and 1.7% in five years (2014-2019), ranking sixth- and third-highest for these metrics, respectively.

8. Toledo, OH

Toledo, Ohio has the sixth-highest 2019 divorce rate across all 100 cities in the study (14.5%). It ranks 19th- and 21st-highest for one-year change (0.9%) and five-year change (0.5%) in divorce rate, respectively.

9. Jacksonville, FL

Jacksonville, Florida has the eighth-highest 2019 divorce rate in the study (14.4%). This city ranks 17th-highest for its 1.0% increase in divorce rate from 2018-2019 and 23rd-highest for its 0.3% jump from 2014-2019.

10. Montgomery, AL

Rounding out the top 10, Montgomery, Alabama had a 14.1% divorce rate in 2019, which ranks 10th-highest in this study. That’s a 0.7% increase from 2014 to 2019 and a 0.6% increase between 2018 and 2019, ranking 18th and 25th in this study, respectively.

Image is a table by SmartAsset titled "2021 Study: Where Divorces Are Becoming More Common."

Data and Methodology

To identify where divorces are becoming more common, we considered data for 100 of the largest U.S. cities, ranking them based on the following metrics:

  • 2019 divorce rate. Data is from the Census Bureau’s 2019 1-year American Community Survey.
  • Five-year change in divorce rate. Data is from the Census Bureau’s 2014 and 2019 1-year American Community Surveys.
  • One-year change in divorce rate. Data is from the Census Bureau’s 2018 and 2019 1-year American Community Surveys.

First, we ranked each city in each metric. We then found each city’s average ranking, giving each metric an equal weight. From there, we ranked the cities based on these average rankings. The city with the highest average ranking received an index score of 100 and the city with the lowest average ranking received an index score of 0.

Tips for Navigating a Divorce

  • Seek out expert support. Divorce may bring many financial issues, and you may want a professional’s help. SmartAsset’s free tool matches you with up to three financial advisors in your area, and you can interview your advisor matches at no cost to decide which one is right for you. If you’re ready to find an advisor who can help you achieve your financial goals, get started now.
  • Certifications are key when researching advisors. When finding an advisor to help with a divorce, try to find one who is a certified divorce financial analyst (CDFA). These professionals have special training in navigating divorce and will help make sure you don’t end up in trouble.
  • Once your divorce is finalized, your tax picture may be drastically different. Use SmartAsset’s income tax calculator to see what a newly-single you may owe the government this year.

Questions about our study? Contact press@smartasset.com

Photo credit: ©iStock.com/Pheelings Media

Ben Geier, CEPF® Ben Geier is an experienced financial writer currently serving as a retirement and investing expert at SmartAsset. His work has appeared on Fortune, Mic.com and CNNMoney. Ben is a graduate of Northwestern University and a part-time student at the City University of New York Graduate Center. He is a member of the Society for Advancing Business Editing and Writing and a Certified Educator in Personal Finance (CEPF®). When he isn’t helping people understand their finances, Ben likes watching hockey, listening to music and experimenting in the kitchen. Originally from Alexandria, VA, he now lives in Brooklyn with his wife.
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