Divorce Rates in California

Divorce rates throughout the United States are falling. In 2019, just 14.9 marriages in 1,000 ended in divorce. This is the lowest rate researchers have recorded in 50 years. 

While divorce rates across the country are dipping, they are particularly low in California. The Sunshine State has a reputation for long-lasting marriages buoyed by good jobs and a tight housing market. In an environment like this, it’s often more advantageous for couples to stay together than break apart. 

Variations in divorce rates between counties exist and are somewhat hard to explain and account for. After all, every marriage is personal and can fall apart for similar reasons. 

But understanding these trends could help you assess the risks within your own marriage, and you could use that data to plan. 


Divorce rate statistics in California 

These are a few key statistics about divorce rates in California:

  • The California divorce rate is 6.5%. For comparison, the divorce rate in Arkansas is 10.7%. 
  • California's median divorce cost is $17,500. The cost could be higher if children are involved. 
  • Almost half of all adults in California have never been married. 
  • Married couples make up about 72% of all families in California. 

5 counties with high divorce rates 

We searched through census data to find the counties in California with the highest rates of divorce. These are the top five, per our research: 

Trinity County

With its rugged mountains and deep forests, Trinity County is arguably one of the prettiest places to live in California. But it's also slightly unpopulated, which could leave some couples feeling isolated and alone. Relationships end for all types of reasons, but loneliness could be a factor.

Shasta County

Families could spend their weekends visiting Shasta Lake, Lassen Peak, and other pretty parts of the Sacramento Valley. However, the data suggests that many couples in this county also choose to get divorced. 

Sonoma County

The Sonoma Valley is packed tight with wineries and agricultural countryside. Farming is a difficult business, especially in places impacted by drought. Some relationships crack due to this pressure or other life issues, and couples choose to divorce

Marin County

Despite their beautiful surroundings, people who live in Marin County face many of the same pressures as others in California, such as high property prices, a busy workload, and other life issues. Divorce rates are high in this country, and stress could play a role. 

Sacramento County

The tech industry is growing, and plenty of people work in good jobs in Sacramento. But changes in the market can lead to quick job losses. Some couples struggle with this level of insecurity. They may get divorced as a result. 

3 counties with low divorce rates

Just as some California counties have high divorce rates, some have lower rates. We searched through the census data, and these three counties stood out for their low rates:

Madera County

Vineyards and wineries are plentiful in Madera, but the county isn't faced with the tourism pressures seen in Sonoma or Napa. A combination of farming and creativity could help couples stay closely knit. 

San Francisco County

This California county is one of the most expensive places to live in the United States, and finding new housing is incredibly hard. Some couples may stay together because they have no other option. They may be more motivated to work through tough issues if they know life would be financially harder on a single income.

Santa Clara County

This California county is filled with ethnic diversity and families of many different cultures. Some of these traditions don't allow for divorce, ensuring that couples that get married stay that way. 

What factors lead to divorce?

Every marriage and couple is unique and has its own benefits and drawbacks. But some factors seem to be closely associated with divorce, no matter the couple. 

Researchers say that these are some of the most common "final straws" that end a marriage:

  • Infidelity 
  • Domestic violence 
  • Substance abuse 

But couples also said that they considered divorce due to conflict and a lack of commitment.

If you're considering divorce in California, know that you have options. You could opt for counseling to try to save your union, or you could use an easily reversible tool (like separation) to try living apart first. Take your time to assess your situation, and you’ll find the option that’s right for you. 

Watch: How to Get a Divorce in California



The U.S. Divorce Rate Has Hit a 50-Year Low. (November 2020). Institute for Family Studies. 
Here Are the States Where Your Marriage Won't Last. (December 2020). U.S. News and World Report. 
What's the Average Cost for a Divorce in California? California Business Journal.
California Demographics Data. Town Charts.  
Explore Census Data. United States Census Bureau. 
Reasons for Divorce and Recollections of Premarital Intervention: Implications for Improving Relationship Education. (June 2014). Couple and Family Psychology.
Divorce Specialists
After spending years in toxic and broken family law courts, and seeing that no one wins when “lawyer up,” we knew there was an opportunity to do and be better. We created Hello Divorce to the divorce process easier, affordable, and completely online. Our guiding principles are to make sure both spouses feel heard, supported, and set up for success as they move into their next chapter in life.