Updated Feb 2, 2024 - Economy

Divorce in America gets a glow up

Illustration of a gavel popping out of a bottle of champagne like a cork

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Divorce has become a major life milestone replete with specialized parties, large support networks and a whole industry ready to capitalize on the big change — just like weddings.

Why it matters: Cultural attitudes toward ending a marriage have become far less negative, and in the process divorce has gotten more commodified, from services marking the transition to digital culture that lightens the mood.

State of play: Companies like Evite and Paperless Post offer templates for hosts. (One reads: "I'm better off bein' with my besties! IN MY DIVORCE ERA.")

  • Evite saw a record number of divorce-related invitations last year, according to the company's senior marketing director, Olivia Pollock. They're up 22% since 2019, though they remain a small share of overall Evite events.
  • Fresh Starts Registry has generated buzz for recasting divorce as an occasion for support. With a split comes a list of newly needed household items — or a desire to ditch the old ones.
  • U.S. nightclub chain Howl at the Moon has also seen reservations for divorce parties climb, up to 30 in 2023 from about five annually in recent years, national sales and events manager Jessica Brockway said.
  • "They're generally super positive and more extra on being kind and in a good mood and respectful to everybody else," Brockway said.
  • The hashtag #divorceparty has nearly 70,000 hits on Instagram, and "divorced dad rock" music has become a sub-genre.

Between the lines: As divorce rates have declined in recent years (and staying single is en vogue), social acceptance of divorce has reached a historic high.

  • 81% of Americans said divorce is morally acceptable, per 2022 Gallup polling. Only 13% said it is morally wrong.
  • A slight majority of Americans believe unhappy couples tend to stay married for too long, rather than get divorced too quickly, according to 2023 Pew polling.

What they're saying: Hosting a post-divorce event can be empowering, said Danielle Rothweiler, a New Jersey-based event planner.

  • It can counteract shame and loneliness that can arise from the loss of close connections.
  • "You're writing the rest of the chapters of your book," Rothweiler said. "Just because the story didn't go the way you wanted, it doesn't mean you can't have a happy ending."
  • Rothweiler has planned a couple of divorce parties every year throughout her career, and she said they're like "an over-the-top wedding."

Context: Across psychotherapist Gina Moffa's 20 years conducting grief and trauma therapy, the sense of disgrace around divorce has faded.

  • "The idea that somebody can overcome and can have a sense of control or agency over their life or their love life is the thing really to be celebrated," she said.

Go deeper: Crypto can make messy divorces even messier

Editor's note: Axios' Natalie Daher contributed to this report. This story has been corrected to reflect that 13%, not 5%, of Americans said divorce is morally wrong, per 2022 Gallup polling.

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