Special Report

The Divorce Capital of Every State

Detailed Findings & Methodology

The cost of a divorce can range from a few hundred dollars to many thousands. The average cost of a contested divorce ranges from $15,000 to $30,000, according to Forbes.com. This figure varies depending on the type of divorce and how contentious it is.

Some researchers estimate divorced spouses would, on average, need more than a 30% increase in their income to maintain the same standard of living they were accustomed to before their divorce.

Though child support payments are calculated by the state in which the divorce is granted, most state guidelines try to account for factors such as the income of both parents, the number of children involved, custody, and the amount of time each parent spends with the children.

Despite a parent’s legal obligation to pay court-ordered child support, about half of all court-ordered child support in the United States are actually paid.

Another financial obligation in a divorce may be spousal support or alimony. This spousal support payment can be financially significant for the spouse receiving it, but it can also cause financial distress to the spouse paying it, especially if that spouse has lost his or her job.

Clarkston, Washington, has the highest divorce rate of any city on the 24/7 Wall St. list at 25.7%. Clarkston also has the biggest percentage-point difference between any city and its respective state divorce rate on the list at 13.6.

All of the cities on this list surpass the national average of people divorced at 11%. Clarkston is one of 19 cities where the divorce rate exceeds 20%. Divorce correlates strongly with lower income and poverty in cities where divorce rates are elevated in those cities.

In 33 states, the cities with the highest divorce rates have higher percentages of households earning incomes of less than $10,000 than the national share. In 24 cities, the percentage of total households earning less than $10,000 is greater than the statewide share. In 32 states, the city with the highest divorce rate has a poverty rate that exceeds the national rate of 15.1%. In addition, 24 cities have a poverty rate greater than their state rate. The median household income in the city with the highest divorce rate topped the national median annual household income of $55,322 in just eight states.

The five cities with the highest divorce rates — Clarkston; Truth or Consequences, New Mexico; McMinnville, Tennessee; Brattleboro, Vermont; and Newport, Arkansas — all have higher percentages of households earning incomes of less than $10,000 than the national percentage, higher poverty rates than the the national rate, and lower median household income than both national and statewide medians. The exception is Brattleboro, which has a lower percentage of households earning less than $10,000 in comparison with the share across Vermont.

To identify the divorce capital of every state, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed the Census Bureau’s 2016 American Community Survey to find the percentage of the 15-year-and-older population that is divorced. The population data are five-year averages through 2016. Data on household income and poverty rate also came from the ACS. The Census definition of those who are divorced includes only people who are legally divorced and who have not remarried. Those without a final divorce decree are classified as separated.

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