Sunday, May 11, 2014

Some Discouraging Local Divorce and Marriage Numbers

Rockingham County Court House
Every year since 1996 the clerk of the local Circuit Court has kindly provided me statistics of marriage licenses issued and divorces granted in Harrisonburg and Rockingham County.

Since our population has increased significantly during this time one would expect a steady rise in marriage numbers, but that's not the case. That doesn't mean fewer couples are pairing up, but we likely have ever more people living together in undocumented (common law) relationships.

With fewer legalized marriages we should also be able to expect fewer legalized divorces. But that isn't true, either. And we have no record of how many cohabiting couples break up, with equally distressing consequences as their married counterparts.

Here are the actual numbers:

Year           Marriages     Divorces
1996            873                 387
1997            950                 405
1998            964                 396
1999            932                 405
2000           947                 365
2001         1003                438     (most annual marriages
2002           976                 421
2003           961                 399
2004           959                 437
2005           889                 381
2006           929                 389
2007           925                 434
2008           950                 405
2009           903                 347     (fewest annual divorces)
2010           879                 358     (fewest annual marriages)
2011            933                 433
2012            995                 445
2013            924                 484     (most annual divorces)

Given the fact that every divorce, documented and otherwise, profoundly impacts not only the couple involved, but the lives of parents, siblings, friends and especially any children involved, the number of our neighbors scarred by dysfunctional marriages and destructive divorces each year is incalculable.

What do we make of these numbers? If we had a corresponding dropout rate in our local schools, wouldn't we be appointing some blue ribbon committees to see what could be done to help more students stick it out?

Click here for additional posts on divorce.

Here's the graph to the year 2012:
Here's our population growth:

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