As a result, according to sociology professor Susan Brown, co-director of the National Center for Family & Marriage Research at Bowling Green State University in Ohio, "those who marry in their 20s and 30s today have more stable marriages."
Inevitably, social media adds to the pressure. In the words of Philip Cohen, a professor of sociology at the University of Maryland: Plenty of young couples "want a marriage that looks good on Instagram. You can't just get married at age 23 and expect to be congratulated."
On the other side of the generational divide, boomers are embracing divorce with the fervor of new Peloton owners. Census data shows the divorce rate for Americans 50 or older has more than doubled in the past 30 years.
As older adults enjoy better health and longevity, the notion of an "until death do us part" union with someone they no longer love seems unnecessary.
Why would older couples split, especially when the highest risk of divorce generally falls in the first year or two of a marriage? Brown says that as older adults enjoy better health and longevity, the notion of an "until death do us part" union with someone they no longer love seems unnecessary. That is also consistent with the preferences of younger generations, which are embracing new ideas about equality and division of labor.
Another surprise: Although some people think of second marriages as "love matches," statistics prove that not to be the case. A sizable number of long-lived boomers are on their second marriages, and these triumphs of hope over experience, Brown says, end up shorter than first marriages and 2.5 times more likely to fail.
On the eve of the fifth anniversary of the Supreme Court's Obergefell decision legalizing same-sex marriage, experts are beginning to identify divorce trends in this newly married population. For one thing, McLaren says he sees a higher rate of same-sex couples seeking pre-nuptial agreements.
These couples also face unique challenges, according to Adam Romero, who teaches at the UCLA School of Law and is co-author of a new book on LGBTQ divorce. Same-sex couples may have been together for decades before they could wed, but a judge will consider only the time they were legally married when dividing assets. And even after Obergefell, state courts are still grappling with whether states and cities are obligated to provide equal marriage benefits to same-sex couples.
Meanwhile, technology, which has changed the terms of dating, has also changed the logistics of divorce. When spouses can't resolve their differences and head to court, social media is making those showdowns even more cringeworthy than when private investigators used old-fashioned techniques to snoop on warring spouses. If a judge orders spouses to share their electronic communications and one or both spouses is a lawyer, a doctor or someone else with an obligation to keep professional information confidential, the lawyers must scrutinize every post, then log material they claim they can't share, raising the cost of pre-divorce wrangling to the lofty levels of a corporate battle.
And for couples who do divorce and then face the challenge of co-parenting with a potentially hostile former spouse? There's an app for that! Our Family Wizard, an app that lets divorced parents keep tabs on their children's appointments without speaking to their former spouses, touts a ToneMeter feature that analyzes texts and flags those with "emotionally charged phrases."
So with 2020 upon us and six Oscar nominations (and one win) for "Marriage Story's" portrayal of cutthroat lawyers representing wistful artists, what can we expect on the divorce front? A continued drop in divorce rates as marriage becomes a little less prevalent and a little more stable — a bright spot in a turbulent world.