Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash

Opinion

By Danielle Lachance

Florida is known for a number of different things: beautiful sunny beaches; a good number of retirees, also known as “snowbirds”; and world-famous theme parks, like Disney World and Universal Studios. Unfortunately, that’s not all that Florida is famous, or infamous, for. The state has also become known in recent years for an unusually high divorce rate. While divorce is somewhat common throughout the United States, with somewhere between 40% and 50% of all American marriages ending in divorce, Florida’s divorce rate is particularly high compared to the rest of the nation.

Divorce isn’t always a bad thing. If two people are in an abusive or otherwise toxic relationship, it’s important that they understand that they are free to pursue divorce. In fact, staying in a bad marriage for the long term rather than getting a divorce earlier is often bad for children, exposing them to a negative environment. With that being said, let’s explore why divorce is so prevalent in Florida and what Floridians could do to avoid divorce in the first place.

Why Do People Get Divorced In Florida?

With a divorced population of 13.2%, Florida is the fourth highest-ranking state for divorce. It’s difficult to understand why people get divorced in Florida. In fact, people in Florida get divorced for a myriad of reasons, just as they get divorced for a myriad of reasons in the rest of the country. The issue is that some of those reasons may be more common in Florida than they are in the rest of the country. Many of the issues that lead to divorce in Florida are not solely related to divorce. Rather, they lead to a number of different conflicts that, in married couples, could ultimately lead to divorce. One reason why divorce rates are higher in Florida is the state’s high rate of immigration compared to the rest of the United States. Florida has historically been home to immigrants, particularly those from Cuba and Latin America. Of course, it’s not fair to say that non-Americans are more likely to get divorced than American-born residents. No, the issue lies in the hardships many immigrants face when moving to the United States — hardships that can put a strain on a marriage. Many immigrants move to Florida in the hopes of pursuing the American dream and having better lives than they did in their home countries. Many move to Florida as married couples or as family units. But just because you move to Florida in pursuit of a better life doesn’t mean that the better life you seek is easy; in fact, many immigrants find that, at first, life is actually harder in the United States than it was in their countries of origin, at least on an emotional level.

Moving to a new country means not only potentially renouncing your original citizenship; it also means possibly giving up some of the cultural customs and beliefs that are associated with your country of origin. This in itself is incredibly stressful. It would require, in some cases, learning a new language while also adjusting to a nation that may very well function quite differently from your own. Immigrants often feel quite isolated, which can lead to some immigrant couples clinging together to a degree that is not only unhealthy but ultimately quite negative. What you would think would bring a couple together may ultimately lead to them being driven apart. For that matter, many people who move to a different country together may in many ways be forced to give up their individual identities and pasts. In many cases, a person could have an advanced degree and be forced to give up their profession and start over when moving to the United States. This could result in an individual feeling as if they’re failing to provide or have failed entirely in the United States, ultimately leading to a divorce.

It’s important to remember, too, that it’s often easier to obtain a divorce in the United States than it is in other countries. A couple may move to Florida having been unable to obtain a divorce before emigrating. This alone could keep them together, legally at least. But once that couple is able to get an easy divorce, they may as well do so while residing in Florida. This in itself could contribute to that relatively high divorce rate.

What Other Factors Lead To A High Divorce Rate In Florida?

Another major reason why divorce may seem more common in Florida is that the state welcomes many new residents. As mentioned above, Florida is home to a lot of senior citizens. The rate of couples over the age of 65 seeking a divorce has actually tripled since the 1990s. People also move to Florida for its warm weather and vacation destinations. With 13% to 20% of all of the population moving every year, it’s inevitable that some of those people would end up in Florida.

Furthermore, a lot of people move specifically to save their marriages. Many might feel as if a change of scenery would be good for their marriages, but that’s not necessarily the case. What you moved to Florida to avoid doesn’t automatically go away. And therefore, it’s no surprise that a lot of people move to Florida only to split relatively quickly after, for reasons that have nothing to do with the Sunshine State.

People move to Florida to experience new things, to have a change of pace. But divorce can still happen, and that’s not always a wholly bad thing.

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