South Carolina divorce rate declines

(Source: Wikimedia)

Divorce rates are down in the country and in the Upstate as well. We took a closer look at what's keeping people together during trying times.

As the nation divides on so many issues, it seems married couples are staying together.

We interviewed an Upstate divorce attorney and a local pastor about divorce and marriage. They both agree that getting married is easy. They say, staying married can be a lot tougher. When it comes to getting a divorce, there are so many decisions and variables that can change things.

But more people are saying "I do" and keeping their word. Those who mentor couples, like Pastor Robert Gray, say counseling could be supporting a decline in divorce rates. Gray is the Pastoral Care Director at Redemption Church in Greenville.

He said, "We're finding out that people nowadays are starting to look at the fact that they have invested so much in the relationship, where before when something goes wrong they just walk away."

The decline is nationwide. South Carolina numbers reflect it too, going from 4.5 in 1990 and dropping steadily to 2.9 in 2014.

Divorce Rate:

2014 2010 2006 2002 1999 1990

2.9 3.1 2.9 3.4 3.8 4.5

Greenville attorney Lauren Taylor partially credits the decline to laws that make it tougher to un-tie the knot.

She said, "South Carolina, being the Bible belt, we tend to typically make it very difficult for people to get divorced. With the exception of four 'fault based grounds for divorce' which can end a marriage in 90 days, typically you have to wait a year to get divorced in South Carolina. Those four fault based grounds are adultery, habitual drunkenness or narcotics abuse, physical cruelty and one year's desertion."

Taylor said, "The catch all in the no fault is the living separate for a year. Basically that's a no fault divorce where parties just stop cohabitating."

Another factor may be the fact that the marriage rate dropped as well from 15.9 to half that - at 7.6 since 1990.

Marriage Rate:

2014 2010 2006 2002 1999 1990

7.6 7.4 7.8 9.3 10.2 15.9

Pastor Gray hopes to increase that marriage rate, while keeping the divorce rate going down. He believes the marriage and divorce care classes at Redemption Church are helping to do that. "So many people sometimes feel that they have no place to go, they have all these voices who are one side or the other, who are saying you shouldn't put up with this, you shouldn't do that," said Gray.

Experts like Taylor add that social media is a strong influence as well. "I think it’s definitely put a strain on relationships of all kind, marriages included. It never was so easy to reach out to that old boyfriend or girlfriend."

In the Upstate, in addition to Redemption Church, more local churches are offering marital and divorce care support groups.

Copyright 2016 FOX Carolina (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.

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