The State of Divorce With Karen McMahon and Karen Covy

Mandy Walker

By Mandy Walker | Dec 26th, 2023

Earlier this year Forbes Advisor released an article titled, Revealing Divorce Statistics In 2023, which shared recent data surrounding divorce in the US. The article covers all things divorce, and even compares these new findings to past data, illuminating new or unforeseen trends. As with all things, context is crucial. This study done by OnePoll surveyed 1,000 divorced adults, however in 2021 alone there were over 650,000 divorces, so this is a very small sample size. 

In this episode I am joined by divorce consultant, author, and recovering divorce attorney Karen Covy, and founder of Journey Beyond Divorce, and divorce coach, Karen McMahon. Between the three of us is decades of experience working with couples either going through divorce or considering divorce, with a range of backgrounds. Together we dissect just a handful of findings from the survey and share our thoughts on the state of divorce.


The study found that 60% of divorces were caused by infidelity or extramarital affairs. It’s important to break this down further and determine if the divorce was caused by the infidelity, or if there were underlying factors of unhappiness, which then led to the infidelity. As Karen McMhon points out, very seldom does someone in a happy marriage decide to have an affair. 

Lack of Family Support

Almost 20% of respondents said that a lack of family support was the reason for their divorce. Our experts agree that this may hint at the polled audience being a bit younger than their usual client base, as this specific cause for divorce decreases significantly the older you get. A lack of family support can also mean a variety of things, whether it’s not having a babysitter to allow for a night out of the house, or family intentionally interfering with the relationship if they don’t approve. 

When Does Divorce Happen?

In this study 40% of those polled said their divorce occurred between years 3-7 of marriage, and that only 4% of marriages ended after 10 years. While this specific number may be a bit off the norm, both Karens agree that the couples they work with having typically been married for longer than 10 years and are often in their 40s-50s. The term “Gray divorce” refers to couples that divorce later in life, and studies have shown that the divorce rate for people 50 years of age and older has more than doubled in the last 10 years, and the divorce rate of people age 65+ has more than tripled. That being said, clients that work with both Karens have admitted that they probably should have left years ago. Additionally, there are an abundance of resources available for people to go through the divorce process without the help of a professional, so it’s possible they aren’t getting the entire picture based solely on their experience working with their client base.

Is Divorce Contagious?

With the prevalence of divorce in the US, it’s almost impossible not to know someone who has been divorced by the time you’re 18 years old, which makes one of the statistics from this study quite a head scratcher. The survey showed that 92% of people getting divorced knew someone else who had been divorced, making the point that knowing someone who has been divorced increases your odds of getting divorced. Because of how common divorce is, it’s safe to say that this correlation may be unrelated. That being said, there may be an argument for divorce being contagious. For example, if one person in a friend group decides to get divorced, that may prompt another friend who has been struggling in their marriage to go ahead and get divorced as well. This kind of phenomenon has been seen in the past.

Understanding the Commitment

About 72% of couples reported they didn’t fully understand the commitment involved in getting married before deciding to take the plunge. This again points to a younger group of adults surveyed, who may not have taken the time to really think through the potential hardships they may encounter as a couple. Older couples would have likely had the time to discuss their differences and make a more informed decision when it comes to marriage.

The Root Cause

What several of these responses point to is a lack of communication and conflict resolution skills. At a time of increased isolation, there is much to be gained from being taught how to openly communicate with others and be able to work through disagreements in a way that is respectful. Having the emotional intelligence to understand where you and your spouse have disagreements is important in order to work through them and assess their severity. Addressing differences ahead of time and not being afraid of being open and honest with your spouse is key to a successful and happy marriage. Being self aware of who you are, your traumas, and what you bring to the table is also a crucial starting point in this process as well. 

About Our Guests

Karen Covey is a Divorce Coach, Lawyer, Mediator, Arbitrator, and Collaborative Divorce Professional.  She provides divorce and decision coaching to busy professionals and business owners who want to make clear, confident decisions during one of the toughest yet most sensitive times in their life. For those clients who decide to divorce, Karen helps them navigate through the divorce process with less conflict, expense, and damage to themselves and their children. Karen is the author of When Happily Ever After Ends: How to Survive Your Divorce Emotionally, Financially, and Legally. She is also the creator of the online divorce program, The Divorce Road Map 2.0.

Karen McMahon is a Certified Relationship and Divorce Coach and Founder of Journey Beyond Divorce.  She began divorce coaching in 2010 after recognizing that the pain of her divorce led her on a transformational journey into an incredible new life. Karen leads a national team of divorce coaches in supporting men and women around the world to become calm, clear, and confident as they navigate divorce.  Karen is the host of the acclaimed Journey Beyond Divorce Podcast, co-author of ‘Stepping out of Chaos: Turning Pain to Possibility’, creator of JBD’s exclusive 12 Step Divorce Recovery Program and leads a nationwide team of JBD coaches. 

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Mandy Walker

Mandy Walker

Mandy Walker is a divorce mediator and Certified Divorce Financial Analyst® based in Boulder, Colorado. She works with individuals and couples helping them to end their relationships with dignity and respect, creating an understanding of the process and their options so they can feel confident in the decisions they’re making.


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