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Who initiates the divorce more often, the wife or the husband?

One might think that 50 percent of the time, a divorce action is filed by the husband, and the other 50 percent of the time it’s the wife who begins the proceedings — or that maybe there’s a small percentage to subtract for the divorces that are somehow filed jointly by spouses who agree that they should part.

It also seems plausible that since the wife’s standard of living often declines after a divorce, women would be less likely to file a divorce action. Conversely, because men more often engage in adultery, it may seem that wives would be more likely to seek a divorce based on their husbands’ conduct.

The reporting of divorce statistics isn’t as complete as, say, the census data collected in the U.S. every ten years. However, several sources have arrived at pretty much the same answer to the question, “who initiates a divorce more often, men or women?”

Two-Thirds of the Time
It’s the wife who files for divorce in about two-thirds of divorce cases, at least among couples who have children. According to the National Center for Health Statistics, the proportion has changed slightly over the years; for example, in 1975, approximately 72 percent of the divorces in the U.S. were filed by women, whereas by 1988, only about 65 percent were filed by women.

The Same throughout the 19th Century
A study reported in the American Law and Economics Review in 2000, "These Boots Are Made for Walking: Why Most Divorce Filers are Women" also showed that more recently, women file more than two-thirds of divorce cases in the US. Even though the individual states’ data vary somewhat and the numbers have fluctuated over time, throughout most of the 19th century about 60 percent of divorce filings were by women.

Moreover, in some of the states where no-fault divorce was introduced, over 70 percent of the divorce filings were by women. Among college-educated couples, the percentage of divorces initiated by wives is a whopping 90 percent.

Are you considering filing for divorce from your husband or wife? If so, contact us today to schedule a private consultation with a qualified divorce attorney in your area.

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