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slides: Central Mass Towns with the Highest Divorce Rates

Monday, April 01, 2013


GoLocalWorcester is taking a look at the towns in the region with the highest rates of divorce, based on census data. Massachusetts may have one of the lower rates of divorce in the U.S. but some towns aren’t in it for the long haul.

According to Polly A. Tatum, an experienced Divorce Mediator serving Worcester County, the economy plays a large role in divorce rates, as so a region’s social factors.

A Look at Mass.

According to figures from the Center for Disease Control, the divorce rate per 1,000 population in Massachusetts has risen in the past four years. In 2008, the rate was 2.0, rising to 2.2 the following year. In 2010, 2.5 percent were getting divorced, and in 2011 2.7.

Nationally, there were 2,096,000 marriages in 2010, and the divorce rate was 3.6 per 1,000 population.

Statistics have also reflected regional differences that show that the Bay State’s low rate is similar to the region. Divorce rates are higher than the national average in the Southeast (10.2 per 1,000 men and 11.1 per 1,000 women) and lower in the Northeast (7.2 for men and 7.5 for women). Marriage rates are also higher in the Southeast and lower in the Northeast.

Economic Influence?

Tatum said that while many issues come together in a divorce, the economy plays a part.

“In my opinion, economic factors can play a major role in the demise of a marriage,” she said. “I believe as the economy starts to pull out of this deep recession, divorce rates will continue to climb as opposed to people trying to stay in one household in order to make ends meet.”

Studies have linked economic stability to divorce rates, and Tatum points out that the towns at the top of the list in Central Mass have a varied economic base, some on the lower economic spectrum.

Tatum said that low figures are also being influenced by couples’ decisions to go around a technical divorce. While marriages are happening less often in New England, she sees this trend in her practice.

“I have found in my Divorce Mediation practice that more and more couples are continually seeking alternatives to traditional litigation to save time, money and the stress of a contested divorce process,” Tatum said.

Numbers Across the Nation

The McKinley Irvin firm also features some insightful divorce facts that paint a good picture of how other areas stack up, compared to the Commonwealth. The average length of a marriage that ends in divorce is eight years.

According to the law firm, people wait an average of three years after a divorce to remarry if they remarry at all, and the average age for couples going through their first divorce is 30 years old.

2008 voter data shows that “red” states, have higher divorce rates than “blue” states.

Oklahoma has the highest overall divorce rate at 13.45, followed by Arkansas, which has the second highest rate of divorce in the country at 13.15. Alaska comes in next with a divorce rate of 13.05.

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#17 - Tie

Divorce Rate: Spencer 11.1 %

Divorce Rate: Belchertown 11.1%

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#16 Gardner

Divorce Rate: Gardner 11.5 %

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#15 Brockton

Divorce Rate: Brockton 11.7 %

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#14 Haverhill

Divorce Rate: Haverhill 11.8 %

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#13 Shirley

Divorce Rate: Shirley 11.9 %

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#12 Hopkinton

Divorce Rate: Hopkinton 12.1 %

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#11 Fitchburg

Divorce Rate: Fitchburg 12.3 %

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#10 Southbridge

Divorce Rate: Southbridge 12.5 %

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#9 Clinton

Divorce Rate: Clinton 12.6 %

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#8 Ayer

Divorce Rate: Ayer 13.4 %

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#7 - Tie

Divorce Rate: Winchendon 13.9 %

Divorce Rate: Baldwinville 13.9 %

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#6 Athol

Divorce Rate: Athol 14 %

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#5 North Brookfield

Divorce Rate: North Brookfield 15.8 %

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#4 Webster

Divorce Rate: Webster 16 %

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#3 Barre

Divorce Rate: Barre 16.8 %

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#2 Groton

Divorce Rate: Groton 17.3 %

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#1 Townsend


Divorce Rate: Townsend 27.9 %


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