While divorce is not nearly as controversial or stigmatized as it has been, it’s not something anyone would hope for or desire when entering a loving marriage.
Yet, divorced model Emily Ratajkowski took to her TikTok, following the news of Joe Jonas’ divorce from Sophie Turner (he’s 34 and she’s 27), to say “personally, I find it chic to be divorced by the age of 30.”
Yes, ‘chic’, as in elegant, stylish, in fashion.
Naturally the comment is divisive in nature. Divorce is often seen as the sad ending, the failure of the marriage; not something to be desired or even ‘on trend’.
And yet, perhaps it’s time that divorce at a young age got a glow up? Maybe it isn’t the ‘big, bad, devastating wolf’ that it’s made out to be?
We couldn’t help but wonder: could promoting early divorce be the key to a new lease on life for those who would otherwise waste years trying to make something they entered into young, work?
What Did Emily Ratajkowski Say?
Ratajkowki shared a TikTok video with a little search bar on screen featuring Sophie Turner and Joe Jonas’ names, so it was clear that her comments were in relation to the discourse around their young divorce.
She took the opportunity to share her own story of a marriage breakdown (for those who don’t know, she has been separated from her ex, Uncut Gems producer Sebastian Bear-McClard, for a year).
“So, it seems that a lot of ladies are getting divorced before they turn 30 and as someone who got married at 26, who has been separated for little over a year (I’m 32), I have to tell you I don’t think there’s anything better,” she said.
“Being in your 20s is the trenches. There is nothing better than being in your 30s, still being hot maybe having a little bit of your own money,” she added.
“Figuring out what you want to do with your life, everything, and having tried that married fantasy and realizing that it’s maybe not all it’s cracked up to be…then you’ve got your whole life still ahead of you. To all those people who are stressed about being divorced, it’s good, congratulations.”
Clearly a bit of a mic drop moment for Ratajkowski, who is evidently thriving in her newfound ‘single era’.
Her take, however, raises a lot of questions. Firstly, why are people getting divorced so young? Is marriage really working for us as a structure anymore?
Also – what about the financial implications of early divorce? It’s fine to say that it’s on trend, or ‘chic’, but what if it’s really impacting people?
To help us answer some of these questions, we’ve enlisted the help of Lucille McCart, APAC Communications Director at Bumble and Vanessa Hernandez, Head of Family Law in Queensland for Australian Family Lawyers.
Why Are Young People Getting Divorced?
While traditionally divorce has been seen as a last resort, Vanessa Hernandez at Australian Family Lawyers says this perception is outdated.
“A mere 5 per cent of marriages dissolve due to financial strains,” she tells marie claire Australia. “The true reasons behind uncoupling often lie deeper and are reflective of our evolving societal norms and challenges.
“Often, it’s a complex blend of communication breakdowns, infidelity, growing apart, changes in life or personal beliefs, challenges with external family, and the strains of mental health or addictions that lead to divorce. In today’s extremely high-pressure environment even unconventional reasons like online habits or hidden second lives play a role in the unravelling of marriages.”
While the report doesn’t break down divorce by age, Australian Family Lawyers have recorded an overall increase in divorce by 13.6 per cent between 2020 and 2021. Maybe divorces really are on trend?
And why is it happening young?
“They are more likely to face difficulties regarding things like acquiring housing and setting themselves up financially. There are also issues that are more prevalent amongst young couples such as what constitutes as unacceptable behaviour online like liking and following certain accounts. These factors all add up to place a unique strain on young couples,” Hernandez explains.
Is It Problematic To Call Divorce ‘Chic’ When It Is So Expensive?
While removing the negative connotations of divorce is something that Ratajkowski should be celebrated for, it is important to note the financial toll that it can take on a person.
A fan commented on her TikTok, “GIRL YOU HAVE MONEY THOUGH.”
They’re right of course, getting married young, and then divorced, is a much more expensive exercise than just abstaining from marriage until you’re ‘sure’.
“The financial toll of divorce is multifaceted and extends beyond the mere counting of dollars and cents,” explains Hernandez.
“The average family law legal fee ranges between $6,000 to $15,000 but the implications extend beyond legal fees to asset divisions, potential child and spousal support, and indirect costs such as setting up separate households.
“While the emotional and personal reasons for divorce are a paramount consideration when deciding whether to separate, it’s undeniable that divorce can be a financially challenging endeavour for many couples especially in the current economic climate.”
Are Emily Ratajkowski’s Comments Important To Redefine Divorce?
The truth is that getting divorced young is more complex than if it is ‘chic’ or not. Perhaps it’s not the right word choice, yet Ratajkowski’s overarching message is something that resonates.
Firstly, that you come into your own as you reach your 30s. Your self-worth, self-belief increases, and you certainly don’t need a partner to make this time in your life happy and successful.
Bumble’s Lucille McCart shares, “I have never been married, and therefore have never been divorced, but I have dated throughout my twenties and thirties, and I can say that at 33 I am having more fun and going on better dates than I ever have before.
“By the time you reach your thirties you have much more life experience than you do in your twenties, you have probably become more confident in who you are, are more established in your career and finances, and therefore have a much better idea of what you want and who will be compatible with you. On a personal level I am more comfortable with my body, more aware of what I like and don’t like, and less likely to invest time in romantic connections that aren’t giving me what I want or that I know aren’t going to work out.”
Data from Bumble shows that there are a lot of people in Australia who are newly single and back on the dating market.
“As of the end of 2022, 42% of people on Bumble in Australia had ended a marriage or serious relationship in the last two years. These people are jumping into a new chapter in their lives, with 36% of them using dating apps for the first time and learning to navigate new dating languages and codes,” she explains.
It’s for these people that Ratajkowski’s message holds the most value. That being divorced in your 30s is not a failure, but instead an opportunity to enjoy the sense-of-self you’ve earned over time, the career you’ve grown, the friendships and other people that give your life meaning. That being divorced in your 30s can be a good thing after all.
McCart counsels, “If you are getting into dating for the first time in a while or after a big life upheaval, such as a divorce, it is a good idea to take some time to think about what it is that you want from the experience. Do you want to have fun and meet new people? Do you want to find something casual but ongoing? Would you prefer to date more seriously?
“Whatever it is, having an understanding of that and leading with those intentions will lead to better results.”
Of course, online dating is a great way to get back in the game if you choose to, but it may also involve taking a course you’ve always wanted to, travelling to a place you’ve always been keen to go to or even taking steps towards that next big promotion.
And when you’re ready to get back on the dating scene, McCart says that “dating after divorce doesn’t have to be scary.”
Fans in Ratajkowski’s comment section agree.
“Divorcee here. The grass really was greener on the other side,” one wrote.
“Don’t settle ladies!! It’s not the end of the world if you get divorced no matter what society tells you! Your happiness matters,” another added.
Perhaps divorce isn’t ‘chic’ but instead ‘life-changing’, in some negative ways, but also in many positive ones.