Who is More Likely to File for Divorce – Men or Women?

Wooden Gavel On Petition For Divorce

American marriages have evolved in many ways over the years – economic structures changed as women joined the workforce, the rate of divorce has risen, and the demographics of those getting married has changed. But one thing has remained consistent – women are much more likely than men to file for divorce.

According to studies from 2000 and 2016, women are the filers in nearly 70% of divorces. The numbers have remained consistent, showing that women were the filers in 60-80% of divorces since 1865. However in non-marriage relationships, men and women break off relationships at equal rates.

Why do women file for divorce twice as often as men?

There are a lot of societal developments that, on the surface, may seem to contribute to the statistics. However, these theories do not account for the fact that the statistics have been consistent for well over a century. Theories include:

  • As women joined the workforce, they continued to bear most of the housekeeping and childcare duties, leading to discontent.
  • As women increasingly work outside the home, they see better options that what they have in their marriage.
  • Despite shifts toward co-parenting solutions, many men are reluctant to jeopardize their relationships with their children by filing for divorce.

Does it matter who files for divorce first?

Each situation is unique, but in many cases there are advantages to being the party who initiates the divorce proceeding. It is important to discuss with a lawyer what role these factors may play in your case:

  • Ability to plan and strategize. The party to file does not have a set deadline. The spouse responding to divorce, however, needs to act quickly in order to meet court deadlines.
  • Time to come to terms with the financial cost of the process. Budgeting for a divorce is easier if you know when you are going to file.
  • Ability to choose. When more than one court has jurisdiction, the party who files gets to choose – this can impact how many issues will ultimately be resolved.
  • Setting the stage. The party who initiates the divorce also gets to make the first argument at trial.
  • Accounting. New York and New Jersey divorce courts impose an automatic order to prevent either party from taking or using marital assets for anything other than normal expenses or paying for divorce proceedings. Unfortunately, some unscrupulous spouses try to circumvent the order to hide assets; knowing about the divorce in advance can help you prepare by taking an accounting.

Experienced divorce attorneys in NY and NJ

There is a lot to think about when filing for or responding to a petition for divorce. The good news is the committed Rockland County divorce lawyers at Kantrowitz, Goldhamer & Graifman have been providing seasoned legal assistance for over 40 years. With offices in Rockland County, NY, and Bergen County, NJ, we have helped clients all over New York and New Jersey. Call (888) 624-4916 today to schedule a confidential consultation.

Additional NY & NJ divorce resources:

  1. Psychology Today, Who Initiates Divorce More Often?, https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/the-third-wave/201705/who-initiates-divorce-more-often
  2. Brinig, M., Douglas, W.A. (2000), These Boots are Made for Walking: Why Most Divorce Filers are Women, American Law and Economics Review 2(1): 126-169, http://www.unc.edu/courses/2010fall/econ/586/001/Readings/Brinig.pdf