Thursday, July 25

Is Arizona Becoming the Second-Marriage Capital of the United States?

A new study from the U.S. Census Bureau has found that Arizonans divorce more frequently than the national average — especially those who are living in the northwestern part of the state.

The report says that 24.8% of all men throughout the entire United States have been married at least twice; for women, the amount is slightly less at 24.4%. In Western cultures like the U.S., these figures aren’t entirely uncommon, as at least 90% of people in these parts of the world have been married at least once by the age of 50.

Arizona, however, is above the national average: 28% of men and 28.3% of women have been married two times or more.

But Mohave County in northwest Arizona has some of the highest figures in the country and topped the nation for highest divorce figures out of all metropolitan areas studied.

Forty-one percent of men in the county, which includes the Lake Havasu area, have been married at least twice, and 42.3% of the county’s women have done the same.

Why so many divorces? A few locals have theories about the area’s views on holy matrimony.

Chad Garrison, senior pastor at Calvary Baptist Church, said it may have to do with the traditional values of residents. Because they’re politically conservative, they may be more likely to marry but also less likely to live together — something he refers to as the “Lake lifestyle.”

“This is a retirement resort and party town,” he said.

But economist Tom Rex of the W.P. Carey School of Business at Arizona State University names age as another factor. Lake Havasu’s community is among the oldest in the state.

“The older you are, the better the chance you have of being remarried,” he said.

The Prescott, AZ, area, he said, has the oldest average population in the state but the second highest rate of remarriage in the country.

Not everyone is getting divorced at home, either. “Destination divorces” are catching on and providing couples with the chance to take a trip before splitting for good.

Even Arizona has become a spot to dissolve a marriage. Chris LePan, a family law and divorce attorney, accompanied two of his clients to Scottsdale, AZ, to help them reach an agreement.

Once they did, on the very first day at the resort, the soon to be former couple ordered room service as LePan typed up their agreement.

“They were able to then enjoy themselves separately for the rest of their trip,” LePan said. Part of the incentive, he explained, was that couples will want to reach an agreement so they can go play golf or visit the hotel spa for a massage.

For some, said Garrison, maybe the trend simply reflects a “second chance at happiness.” And others haven’t actually divorced at all.

“There’s a man in our church who’s on his third wife because he’s outlived two previous wives,” he said. “I don’t know if he’s going to have four of them before all’s said and done — he’s 90 years old.”

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