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Every State’s Most Googled Divorce Searches

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Whether they’re considering the idea, have concluded that they want one, or been served with an unexpected petition, people across the U.S. have been turning to Google for information about divorce.

What’s especially interesting is that the divorce topics being Googled vary in popularity from one state to the next. For example, in Arkansas, ‘free divorce’ was the top search term while in Idaho everyone Googled ‘child support phone number.’ ‘Divorce adultery’ appeared to be a prime concern in Louisiana while Georgia residents had questions about ‘dating after divorce.’

To learn more about state-specific divorce concerns, we used Google Trends to pinpoint what searches came out on top in each state.

Alabama – Marriage annulment

Alabama has strict requirements for annulling a marriage. The six recognized grounds are:

  • One spouse committed fraud when they entered the marriage
  • One spouse was under age
  • The marriage took place under duress
  • The relationship was incestuous
  • Either spouse lacked the mental capacity to enter into a marriage
  • One spouse was already married at the time of the marriage

With annulment being a recognized means of ending an invalid marriage, Alabama residents may want to ensure that their relationship meets the necessary criteria.

Alaska – Child Custody

Alaska child custody laws are like those of other states in that courts base their decisions on the best interests of the child. However, Alaska’s considerable distance from the continental U.S. could present travel challenges if a divorced parent wants to take their child to visit relatives or even relocate outside the state.

Arizona – Single Mom Quotes

When insurance provider Haven Life examined the U.S. Census Bureau 2017 American Community Survey, it found that 26.7% of all families in Phoenix, Arizona, were headed by single moms. Since single mothers can encounter tiring challenges as they struggle to balance family and a career, the encouragement offered by quotes and affirmations may be an important part of getting them through a difficult day.

Arkansas – Free Divorce

Arkansas is one of the states that only allows fault-based divorces. Grounds include a felony conviction, impotence, adultery, and cruel treatment that endangers the other spouse’s life. Anyone wanting to divorce in Arkansas must present proof of an accepted fault ground to the court, which can cost time and money. By Googling ‘free divorce’, state residents are clearly looking for the most cost-effective way to end an unhappy marriage.

California – How to End a Marriage, Dog Custody, Ex Restraining Order, Divorce Vacation

There were multiple contenders for the most Googled divorce search term in California. Since it’s the most populated state at 37.68 million people, it’s hardly surprising that more than one term came out on top.

  • How to end a marriage. There are three ways to end a marriage in California: divorce, annulment, and summary dissolution, the latter of which has been used to undo hasty, short-term marriages. This may account for the popularity of the search term.
  • Dog custody. In 2018, California passed a pet custody law that differentiates companion animals from other marital property. People getting divorced since then are probably wondering what they need to know about sharing pet custody.
  • Ex restraining order. Not all marriages or relationships end on happy terms. In California, there are three primary types of restraining order: emergency protective order, temporary restraining order, and permanent restraining order. Each one has its own criteria, so California spouses concerned about their safety may be reviewing their next steps.
  • Divorce vacation. Vacations can be complicated after divorce if a couple has children. With California’s divorce rate being an estimated 10% above the national average, parents are clearly wondering how their split will affect future vacations.

Colorado – Common Law Marriage

Colorado is one of the few states that allows couples to enter into a common-law marriage. They must live together, mutually agree to the marriage, and present themselves to others as married.

Since Colorado is one of only fifteen states that recognizes this form of relationship, residents or those planning on moving to the state appear to be using Google to determine what their rights and responsibilities are.

Connecticut – Divorced Parents

While Connecticut’s divorce rate is lower than most other states, divorced parents in the state are still concerned about their options for custody and visitation as well as support standards. Connecticut is one of the states that uses an ‘income shares’ model to calculate child support: in other words, if one parent made 60% of the household income during the marriage, they would pay 60% of the allotted child support while the other parent paid 40%.

Delaware – Family Court

Delaware’s top search term involves the state family court system. It consists of 17 judges, one of whom is appointed by the Governor as Chief Judge. There are also commissioners who hear a wide range of family court-related cases, including child support, delinquency, and civil protection orders.

Florida – Is Alimony Taxable? / Mediation For Divorce

Like California, Florida had more than one top search term. The first one wasn’t surprising: many Floridians were concerned about alimony issues in 2018. Prior to January 2019, alimony payments were tax deductible for the payor while the recipient paid taxes on the money like they did every other form of income. Then the law changed on January 1, 2019: payors no longer enjoyed deductions and recipients did not have to pay taxes on their payments.

The second search term (mediation for divorce) appears to reflect how more people are choosing non-adversarial ways to end their marriages. Divorce mediation allows you to negotiate the terms of your divorce without resorting to expensive litigation.

Georgia – Dating After Divorce

Georgia residents have good reason to be cautious about dating and divorce. It is one of a handful of states that recognizes adultery as grounds for granting an at-fault divorce.  State law can also deny alimony to an adulterous spouse if their actions caused the parties to separate.

While there is no law that prevents a person from dating after the divorce has been granted, the courts could still modify a custody arrangement if someone’s new partner appears to interfere with their ex’s relationship with the kids or is otherwise an undesirable influence.

Hawaii – Divorce Decree

There are many reasons why someone might need a copy of their divorce decree in Hawaii.

  • A woman might be seeking to resume her maiden name.
  • A divorced homeowner who wants to refinance the marital home will have to present the decree to remove their former spouse’s name and obligation from the mortgage.
  • Anyone looking to remarry must present proof that their previous marriage ended in divorce before they can obtain a marriage license.

Next to Nevada, Hawaii has the highest marriage rate of all states, so the remarriage issue may be what’s driving all of the ‘divorce decree’ searches.

Idaho – Child Support Phone Number

Divorced parents in Idaho are clearly concerned about missed child support payments, which is not really surprising given the fact that support amounts awarded are considerably lower than those in other states. According to Forbes the yearly support for a single child in Idaho is $11,600 while the rate in Texas is $12,744 and $28,000 in North Carolina.

Illinois – Divorce Depression, Second Divorce

Illinois has a comparatively low divorce rate of 9.7%, which is below the national average of 10.9%, but ‘divorce depression’ suggests that residents who do end their marriages spend awhile coming to terms with the ways that their lives have changed.  Those searching for ‘second divorce’ will find that an estimated 67% of all second marriages end in divorce.

Indiana – How To File For Divorce, Filing For Divorce

In October 2017, the Indy Star reported that the divorce rate in Indiana was one of the highest in the nation. It ranked at number six among the 50 states. The article suggested that low incomes could be a contributing factor: the median household income of $52,300 a year was $5,000 less than the national median income of $57,600.

Since financial difficulties are a leading cause of divorce, the popularity of the search terms ‘how to file for divorce’ and ‘filing for divorce’ means that the report quoted by the paper could be correct.

Iowa – Online Divorce

Online divorces are synonymous with DIY divorces, which suggests that Iowa residents are looking for the most inexpensive ways to end their marriages. Although the median household income in Iowa is $58,500, 43.72% of families have minor children, so parents who have agreed to an uncontested divorce may be looking for ways to cut costs and have more money left over for supporting their children.

Kansas – Divorce Support

The divorce rate in Kansas has fallen since 1990, when five out of every 1,000 inhabitants dissolved their marriages. In 2017, that number dropped by over half, to 2.4. Being fewer in number, Kansas residents who decide to divorce appear to be in greater need of help from Meetup groups and other support systems designed to help people through this major life transition.

Kentucky – Divorce Help

According to the 2013-2017 Community Survey, the divorce rate in Kentucky is approximately 3% above the national average. In the city of Lebanon, 22.7% of all residents over the age of 15 have been divorced at least once. With younger people included among those ending their marriages, Kentuckians are looking for direction or advice on how to get divorced properly.

Louisiana – Divorce Adultery

Louisiana recognizes no-fault divorce, but there are still two grounds for obtaining a fault-based divorce: adultery or a felony conviction with hard labor or a death sentence. While adultery does not generally have an effect on how community property is divided, if an adulterous spouse’s actions caused the marriage to break down, they may forfeit their right to ask for alimony.

Maine – Parental Rights

According to statistics compiled by the state Department of Health and Human Services, the divorce rate in Maine has been steadily declining over the past 30 years, but those couples who are separating are clearly wondering about their parental rights.

Maine law has specified that unless circumstances recommend otherwise, both parents are regarded as the “joint natural guardians” of their children. When reaching a custody decision, courts determine what arrangement is in the child’s best interest and may consider input from kids over the age of 12.

Maryland – Divorce Meaning

On the surface, this search term is unusual: surely Maryland residents know the meaning of divorce. But if you take a close look at the state’s legislative code, you come across two types of divorce: ‘absolute’, which terminates the marriage completely, and ‘limited’, which is what other states might call a legal separation. In a limited divorce, the couple remains legally married, but still petitions the court for decisions regarding child custody and support, spousal support, and property division.

Massachusetts – I Love My Ex

Divorce regret is real. In its oft-quoted 2016 study, UK law firm Seddons found that out of the 800 divorced parties interviewed, 22% regretted the divorce. Although the overall divorce rate in Massachusetts is lower than the national average at 9.4%, this Google search terms suggests that many people living in the state are still in love with their exes.

Michigan – Divorce Party

At first glance, this search term doesn’t make much sense. Who ever heard of a ‘divorce party’? However, a Google search confirms that this really is a thing. It’s an event designed to honor a marriage even as it is ending. When Charles and Bonnie Bronfman divorced, they threw a lavish gala for 100 friends and family members, complete with engraved invitations.

Although some people regard divorce parties as the ultimate in poor taste, those who have hosted them say that they bring closure in ways that a divorce decree alone cannot.

Minnesota – Divorce Care

This search term could address two subjects: caring for yourself after divorce and the DivorceCare meetup groups that exist across North America. According to the organization’s website, each meeting begins with a 30 to 40-minute video seminar on the subject of divorce and recovery. Afterward, group participants discuss the video and what’s going on in each member’s life.

Mississippi – Cheating Spouse, Divorce Lawyers

A cheating spouse can merit a call to a divorce lawyer anywhere, but in Mississippi, adultery is still a crime. If a married man or woman lives with someone other than their spouse and indulges in “habitual sexual intercourse,” they can be fined up to $500 and spend six months in the county jail.

Mississippi is also one of the few states where a wronged spouse can sue their husband’s or wife’s paramour for alienation of affection, a tort that gives one person a cause of action against someone who has interfered with their marriage. If actual adultery is involved, it can give rise to punitive damages such as emotional injuries, counseling expenses, private investigator fees, and attorney fees.

Missouri – Child Support Payments, Child Support Modification

Child support payments and modifications are a concern for divorced parents in any state, but some recent news stories may have inspired the subject’s search popularity in Missouri.

According to this article, the Missouri State Treasurer’s Office and the Department of Social Services have partnered to use unclaimed property to pay past-due child support. Overdue child support case files are matched against a database of unclaimed properties. Any match triggers an automatic property attachment and payment to the DSS, enabling it to claim the property before a parent who owes support can do so. In one instance, over $28,000 was collected from a delinquent parent.

Montana – Parenting Plan

Parenting plans are designed to ensure that children of divorce have regular access to both parents. At 12.4%, Montana’s divorce rate is above the national average, which may be why the ‘parenting plan’ search term remains popular.

Although the parenting plans in effect after divorce are intended to guide parent-child interactions through the foreseeable future, there will be times when an amendment is appropriate. For example, one parent may remarry or move, or the child’s needs change as they grow older.

Nebraska – Custodial Parent

There are two forms of child custody in Nebraska: physical and legal. When a parent has physical custody, the children live with him or her for specified periods of time. Parents with legal custody have the right to make important decisions like where the children go to school and what medical and dental care they receive. The term ‘custodial parent’ is generally used to describe the party who has (or shares) legal custody and has the children under their roof for the majority of the time.

Nevada – Father’s Rights

Legally, Nevada fathers have the same rights as mothers in matters of custody and visitation when a marriage or domestic partnership breaks down. Although more households are headed by single mothers, Nevada is more ‘dad friendly’ than other states: next to Alaska, it has the highest number of households headed by a single father.

New Hampshire – Qualified Domestic Relations Order (QDRO)

A qualified domestic relations order (QDRO) is a court order that grants a divorced spouse a portion of the benefits that their former husband or wife earned in an employer-sponsored retirement plan. Once the order is accepted by the plan, the benefits will be divided once they become payable.

New Hampshire is one of the 10 wealthiest states in the country, with a median household income of $73,381. (It also has the nation’s lowest poverty rate.) Those who are divorcing a high-income spouse appear to be concerned about preserving their right to a portion of the latter’s retirement benefits.

New Jersey – Divorce Support Groups, Divorce Center

The ‘divorce support groups’ search term is self-explanatory: many New Jersey residents coming out of a failed marriage are seeking social and emotional support by meeting with others who are in the same position. ‘Divorce center’ is a bit ambiguous, but may refer to the company that offers flat rates for uncontested divorces and even divorce by mail services.

New Mexico – Full Custody

‘Full custody’ is another term for ‘sole custody.’ It grants one parent all of the rights of responsibilities of raising their children, including decisions about where the children live and go to school, what healthcare they receive, and what religious faith they observe. New Mexico courts may award full custody to one parent if the other parent has been deemed unfit due to:

  • Child abuse or neglect
  • Drug or alcohol dependency
  • A history of mental instability or violence
  • Placing the child in dangerous situations

Since the presumption is that joint custody is in the best interests of the child, sole custody is typically awarded in extreme cases.

New York – I Hate My Ex, DIY Divorce

Why do so many New Yorkers appear to hate their exes? Part of it can be the time and expense involved with a contested divorce. According to research by Martindale-Nolo,  the average cost of a divorce with ‘issues’ was $17,100, which is 34% above the national average. Duration was anywhere between seven months to 20 months, depending on whether children were involved. This may also be why ‘DIY divorce’ was also a popular search term.

North Carolina – Is Child Support Taxable?

North Carolina residents who receive child support payments do not have to pay taxes on it, although there may have been some questions about what types of support are taxable after the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act eliminated the requirement to report alimony as taxable income starting in 2019.

North Dakota – Child Protective Services

North Dakota residents appear to be concerned about Child Protective Services. According to the Prevent Child Abuse North Dakota website, in 2014, there were 1,616 children in North Dakota who were determined to be victims of child abuse or neglect. In 2017, the Department of Health and Human Services released a report stating that:

  • There had been a 9% increase in investigated allegations between 2013 and 2017 and a 30% increase in the number of confirmed victims, the majority of which are under a year old.
  • 8% of the allegations involved neglect as opposed to physical or healthcare abuse.
  • There was one child fatality in 2017.
  • Most abusers were aged between 25 and 34.

Ohio – Catholic Divorce

Why is Ohio searching for ‘Catholic Divorce’? The state doesn’t have a large Catholic population: according to the Pew Research Center, the number is 18%. It is interesting to note, however, that ‘Catholic Divorce’ is a term frequently used for an annulment. The church does not recognize legal divorces: in order to have a second Catholic marriage ceremony, one must be widowed or declared invalid through a religious annulment.

Oklahoma – Co-Parenting, Custody Battle

These two search terms- ‘co-parenting’ and ‘custody battle’- deal with parental access to their children after divorce or separation. The overall Oklahoma divorce rate is 13.2%, which is slightly above the national average. It appears that parents who are either facing or in the middle of divorce are either determining their co-parenting options or preparing for a fight.

Oregon – Spousal Support

‘Spousal Support’ is the most-Googled divorce term in Oregon, possibly because there are three different types:

  • Transitional support, which are temporary payments intended to cover the recipient’s needs as they become more economically self-sufficient.
  • Maintenance support that balances the living costs and lifestyles of divorced spouses.
  • Compensatory support to cover a major expense that left one spouse with a greater earning potential. Common examples include professional degrees.

Unlike some states, Oregon does not calculate spousal support using a formula. Instead, the court will review factors like the length of the marriage and each spouse’s age, health, and earning potential. Oregon is also comparatively unique in that remarriage does not automatically terminate spousal support: the court will decide if the recipient’s economic situation has been improved by the new marriage before deciding to change an award.

Pennsylvania – Custody Agreement

Divorcing parents in Pennsylvania have the option of working out their own custody arrangement as part of their divorce settlement agreement. They can share custody, meaning that both parents have a say in the child’s upbringing, or agree for one spouse to have sole custody in cases where the other cannot play an active role in the child’s life. One parent may have partial custody, meaning that the child stays with them part-time (e.g. evenings and weekends) or visitation, meaning that they don’t have physical custody but retain the right to spend time with them.

Rhode Island – Divorce Guide

Rhode Island divorce laws aren’t particularly complex, but nor is divorce infrequent (state average is 11.1%), but residents contemplating a divorce appear to be searching for a guide. In most cases, the information they are looking for can be found on the family court websites.

South Carolina – Divorce Laws

South Carolina doesn’t have complicated divorce laws. There are five grounds for divorce in the state:

  • Adultery
  • Alcohol or drug abuse
  • Physical cruelty
  • Desertion for one year
  • Continuous separation for one year, which is a ‘no-fault’ ground

Unlike some states, South Carolina doesn’t recognize emotional abuse or mental cruelty as grounds for divorce.

South Dakota – Bigamy

South Dakota law prohibits bigamy, which is when someone marries while still legally married to someone else. It is actually a class 6 felony punishable by up to two years in prison or a $4,000 fine. There are exceptions, namely if a court nullified the first marriage or a spouse has been absent for five years and is believed to be dead.

Tennessee – When To Get A Divorce

The people searching for ‘When To Get A Divorce’ may be searching for legal or personal direction. To file for divorce in Tennessee, at least one spouse must have lived in the state for a minimum of six months. After that, the decision to end one’s marriage will be based on factors unique to the relationship.

Texas – Stop Paying Child Support, Divorce Memes, Is Divorce A Sin?

Texas had three top search terms for divorce: ‘Stop Paying Child Support,’ ‘Divorce Memes,’ ‘Is Divorce A Sin?’

In Texas, parents are generally obligated to pay child support until the child turns 18 or graduates from high school, whichever comes first, although a court may order a disabled child to be supported for a lot longer. Otherwise, one may only stop paying child support if:

  • The child passes away
  • The child becomes emancipated
  • A man discovers that he is not the child’s biological father and petitions to terminate the parent-child relationship
  • The parent becomes severely or terminally ill

Divorce memes are hilarious takes on marriage breakdowns, so Texans are clearly opting to laugh instead of cry. Wondering if divorce is a sin, however, suggests that there are clearly some pangs of conscience.

Utah – Divorce Rate

Utah is the state with the largest families, so it makes sense that people are concerned about the divorce rate, even though it’s not high: 9.1%, which is below the national average. There are some cities that boost a higher rate: in Vernal, the seat of Uintah County, it’s been measured at 19.3%.

Vermont – Child Support Office

Vermont has established guidelines for calculating child support, although the court will sometimes order a different amount if the child’s needs warrant it. In other instances, the court may order a maintenance supplement to correct any disparity in the parents’ financial circumstances if that disparity creates a lower standard of living when the child lives with the custodial parent.

Judging from the popularity of this search term, many Vermont parents have questions or concerns about support obligations.

Virginia – Shared Custody, Divorce News

Virginia had two contenders for the most common divorce search term.

‘Shared custody’ refers to an arrangement where each parent has physical custody of a child for more than 90 days. It differs from joint custody, which is when both parents retain joint responsibility for and authority over the child.

‘Divorce news’ probably refers to the legal changes that took effect in May 2018. The governor signed a bill that now requires courts to consider both sole and joint custody in divorce cases. Before it was passed, judges did not have to consider joint custody as equally as sole custody.

Washington – Legal Separation, Divorce Paperwork

Washingtonians appear to be equally curious about legal separation and divorce paperwork.

A legal separation allows a couple to live apart while remaining married. It is a legally binding consent decree that addresses property division and child custody, support, and visitation. People typically choose this option over divorce due to religious beliefs, the need for one spouse to remain covered by the other’s health insurance, or concerns about the impact of divorce on the children. The ‘divorce paperwork’ search term may suggest that legally separated couples are preparing for divorce.

West Virginia – Grandparents’ Rights

In West Virginia, grandparents may apply for court-ordered visitation, but courts are reluctant to interfere with a parent’s decisions concerning the upbringing of their children. The law presents a rebuttable presumption against such visitation if the parent is fit, but it can be overcome by convincing a court that grandparent visitation is in the best interest of the child.

Wisconsin – Child Support Online

While income withholding is the way most child support is collected in Wisconsin, divorced or separated parents can also pay online, which is useful for those who are self-employed, between jobs, or trying to pay extra toward arrears. The Wisconsin Department of Children and Families offers two electronic payment products: Expert Pay, which enables payment from a checking or savings account, and e-childsPay, which accepts Mastercard payments.

Wyoming – Child Support Calculator

The Wyoming child support calculator uses statutory guidelines to help divorced or separated parents get a rough idea of how much support they may be required to pay. There is a notice on the website reminding parents that the calculator is strictly for informational and educational purposes and the final decision rests with the court.

Google Trends Divorce