Latter-day Saint Marriage & Divorce Statistics

Is the divorce rate of Latter-day Saints higher or lower than non-Latter-day Saints?

Lower, at least in the United States.[1] Multiple studies[2] and survey datasets[3] have found that Latter-day Saints tend to have some of the lowest divorce rates compared to both religious and non-religious Americans.[4]

Research studies related to Latter-day Saint marriage and divorce statistics

Year of Study/Analysis

Study/Analysis

Summary of Relevant Findings

1985[5]

Review of Religious Research, June 1985, Vol 26, No.4

"Religion and Family Formation," Family and Demographic Research Institute, Brigham Young University

Latter-day Saints (Male 14.3%, Female 18.8%) had the lowest percentage of ever married persons who have ever been divorced.

Catholics (Male 19.8%, Female 23.1%), Liberal Protestants (Male 24.4%, Female 30.8%), Conservative Protestants (Male 27.7%, Female 30.9%), None (Male 39.2%, Female 44.7%).

1993[6]

Demography, 1993, Vol. 30, No. 3

"Religion as a Determinant of Marital Stability," Economics Department, University of Illinois at Chicago

Latter-day Saint marriages had the lowest probability (13%) of marriage dissolution.

Catholic (20%), Jewish (27%), Other Religion (13%), No Religion (36%), ecumenical Protestant (20%), and Exclusivist Protestant (19%).

2009[7]

American Religious Identification Survey [ARIS 2008], Summary Report, March 2009

Trinity College

Latter-day Saints had the second-lowest percentage (9%) of divorced/separated in 2008.

U.S. national average of divorced/separated in 2008 was 13%. 'Nones' were at 11%. All other surveyed religions were 10% and above. Those who identified as Jewish had the lowest percentage (8%).

2010[8]

Shield of Faith, Deseret Book, 2010

BYU Religious Studies Center, Brigham Young University

Returned-missionary men had a divorce rate of 9%; returned-missionary women had a divorce rate of 15%.

Non-returned-missionary Latter-day Saint men had a divorce rate of 29%, while U.S. men nationally had a rate of 38%. Non-returned-missionary Latter-day Saint women had a rate of 21%, while U.S. women nationally had a rate of 48%.

2021[9]

"From the Mouth of Two or Three Surveys," Times and Seasons, October 23, 2021

28% of Latter-day Saints had been divorced.

42% of nonmembers had been divorced.

2021[10]

"Are Latter-day Saint Marriages More Stable?" Times and Seasons, October 19, 2021

9% of Latter-day Saints identified as divorced.

Catholics (15%), Buddhists (16%), Evangelical Protestants (17%), Historically Black Protestants (30%), Jehovah’s Witnesses (15%), Jews (12%), Mainline Protestants (15%), Muslims (15%), Orthodox Christians (13%), and Unaffiliated (17%).

What about outside of the United States?

There is less information internationally. One study suggested that in some countries, Latter-day Saints may have higher divorce rates than average.[11] In general, various cross-national datasets have suggested that weekly church attenders (not specifically Latter-day Saints) are less likely to have been divorced than those who only attend sometimes or not at all.[12]

What is the divorce rate of temple marriages?

It's unknown. Estimates range from 6% to 30%.[13][14]

Is the average age of marriage of Latter-day Saints higher or lower than non-Latter-day Saints?

Probably lower. Various studies have concluded that Latter-day Saints get married younger than non-Latter-day Saints, at least in the U.S.[15] Surveys suggest that the average age of marriage for U.S. Latter-day Saints is around 22 to 23.[16]

Is it common for Latter-day Saints to marry outside of their faith?

Not really. About 12% of Latter-day Saints are interfaith marriages, according to a 2001 survey.[17] Researchers have found that interfaith marriages for Latter-day Saints rank amongst the lowest in the U.S.[18]

Is there any data about the happiness of Latter-day Saint marriages?

Not a lot. One blog post analyzed U.S. General Social Survey data and found that members of the Church reported higher marital happiness than non-members.[19] Another dataset compared Latter-day Saint marital satisfaction to other faith traditions (including "Nones") and found that Latter-day Saints had comparatively high marital satisfaction.[20]

Other studies found that American weekly church attenders in general (not specifically Latter-day Saints) tended to have higher marital satisfaction.[21]

What percentage of Latter-day Saints get married in the temple versus civil unions?

It depends on the country. For example, in the United States in 1990, 65% of marriages where both spouses were members of the Church were temple marriages, whereas in Mexico it was 20%.[22] Unfortunately, there is no more recent data available.

Some People Say . . .

"If you live the gospel and are righteous, you will not get divorced."

— overheard in Sunday School

The Facts

  • Data indicates that Latter-day Saint marriages in the U.S. have very low divorce rates.

  • The limited data on temple marriages indicate that divorce rates are also very low.

  • Limited data indicates that Latter-day Saint marriages in the U.S. are happier than the general population.

Our Take

Marriage and family are a central part of the Church and the Gospel. They also can be sensitive topics for many people, for many different reasons. Is there more pressure in the Church to get married? Does divorce happen to Latter-day Saints, and is that okay? Do Latter-day Saints stay in unhappy marriages because of a stigma on divorce? Is it okay for Church members to marry outside the faith?

While considering these questions, it's important to remember that every marriage is unique, and reducing this complex relationship to statistics doesn't tell the whole story. Some of these questions, however, can be informed by data. Studies indicate that married Latter-day Saints have lower divorce rates in the United States. Some data points toward Latter-day Saint marriages being happier than the general population.

Though marriage is a core concept in the Church, not everyone is able to get married in this life and some may go through the pain of divorce. It’s also important to remember, as we say simple phrases in Church like "families are forever," that the mortal reality can be more complicated. Sometimes marriages don't work out, and family structures get complex, but because the plan of salvation extends beyond this life we can be assured that we will be with people we love in heaven.

What's Your Take?

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These takes are curated for a general audience and may contain minor edits when posted.
  • Harold R.
    In my younger years I had several built in assumptions: youth in active families would always remain active; divorce wouldn't happen to any married in the temple; etc. After 75 years I've learned that although my assumptions were wrong, the fundamentals for happiness remain.
  • William S.
    I was a divorce attorney in both Salt Lake City and in California. I have done hundreds of divorces for Latter-day Saints. Very few involved Melchizadek priesthood holders. One was a Bishop whose wife was just unhappy with being married. Another man decided he was gay.
Footnotes