Marriage and divorce statistics Australia

Quick marriage and divorce statistics

  • In 2016 there were 118,401 marriages
  • In 2016 there were 46,604 divorces in Australia
  • The number of divorces per 1000 people is 2
  • The rate of divorce has decreased by 3.9% from 2015
  • The average Australian marriage lasts for 12 years
  • The most common age for getting a divorce is 45.5 for males and 42.9 for females

Decrease in Australian divorce rate

Since the introduction of the no fault divorce under the Family Law Act in 1975, the crude number of divorces per 1000 residents has dropped from 4.6 divorces to just 2 in 2016. In 1976 there were a recorded 63,230 divorces in the nation with a population of 14 million. In 2016 the population increased by 10 million to 24 million residents but the number of divorces had dropped to 46,604.

There are several contributing factors to the decrease in the Australian divorce rate:

  • Less people are getting married to start with
  • More couples are cohabiting before marriage
  • People are older when they get married

Less married couples

Nowadays there is less of a stigma around single parenting and couples cohabiting outside of marriage. This means there is less pressure from families and society for forced or rushed marriages for potentially incompatible couples who have a higher risk of ending in divorce. The crude marriage rate per 1000 residents has dropped from 9.3 marriages in 1970 to 4 in 2016.

Cohabitation before marriage

More couples are now living together before committing to marriage and are living together for longer periods of time. Many people consider cohabitation as a precursor to marriage, and a means of testing the relationship before committing to marriage. The number of couples living together has increased from 16% of couples in 1976 to 80.8% in 2016.

People are older when they get married

The increase to the average lifespan of Australians means that the nation has an aging population and as a result, are taking more time to get married and have children. It could be that people feel less pressured into getting married quickly and are spending more time selecting the right partner for marriage. The average age for getting married has increased from 21 years of age in 1976 to 29 years for women in 2016 and 23 years of age in 1976 to 32 years in 2016 for men.

Male marriage statistics (per 1000 residents)

Male marriage statistics Australia

Female marriage statistics (per 1000 residents)

Female marriage statistics Australia

Women and men were more likely to get married in between the ages of 25-29 in both 2006 and 2016. There was a significant decrease in the number of men and women getting married between the ages of 20-24 over the decade and even in the 25-29 age bracket, demonstrating people are preferring to marry later in life. The only increase over the ten years in the crude marriage rate per 1000 residents was for women aged between 40-44, all other rates dropped over the decade.

Male divorce statistics (per 1000 residents)

Male divorce statistics Australia

Female divorce statistics (per 1000 residents)

Female divorce statistics Australia

The most common age bracket for divorce for women in 2006 was 35-39, this increased to 40-44 in 2016. The most common age bracket for men to get divorced was 40-44 in 2006 but increased to 45-49 in 2016. This increase in age indicates that the average age of divorce increased over the decade. The only age bracket to increase its crude rate of divorce for both men and women over the decade was the 65 and over age bracket.

Types of marriage

Australia has seen a dramatic change in the type of marriage ceremony performed over the past 100 years. In 1902, over 96% of marriages were performed by religious ministers and there were very few civil servants/celebrants. In 1999 51% of marriages were conducted by civil servants/ celebrants. In 2016 76% of marriages were conducted by civil servants/ celebrants and is clearly the preferred type of marriage by Australians.

The change in the type of marriage ceremony corresponds with the decline in religion in Australia. In 2016 61% of Australians said that religion played no part in their lives and that 48% of Australians never attend religious services. The younger the person is, the less likely they will be religious. 50% of the elderly population reported that religion played an important role in their lives, while only 25% of 15-29 year olds responded the same. Reports also showed that church attendance dropped from 44% in 1950 to 16% in 2016. New South Wales saw the highest proportion of religious marriages at 27.7% of all marriages in 2016. The Northern Territory saw the least percentage of religious marriages at only 13.8% of all marriages performed in 2016.

Children of divorce

40,202 children were involved with divorces in 2016, a decrease from 48,396 children in 2006. Less children are involved in divorce each year with the the decreasing divorce rates but the average number of children per divorce has also dropped from 1.9 in 2006 to 1.8 in 2016. In 1975 67.6% of all divorces involved children while in 2016 only 46% of all divorces in Australia involved children.

Number of Children  per divorce

Children of divorce statistics Australia

Second marriages

While only 30% of first time marriages end in divorce, up to 60% of second marriages ended in divorce. 72% of marriages in 2016 were between couples who had not been married before. 16% of marriages were between couples where one partner had been in a previous marriage. 12% of marriages were between couples where both partners had been in previous marriages.

Total- 46,604 divorces

Average length of Marriages
The peak of the divorce rate in Australia was at 4 years of marriage in 2016, rising from 1.2% of divorces at one year of marriage to 6.7% of divorces at 4 years of marriage. The rate of divorces per length of marriage steadily decreased after 4 years, dropping to 1.2% at 29 years of marriage.

Australian marriage and divorce statistics by state

Marriages vs divorces by state

New South Wales

The crude marriage rate for New South Wales was 5.1 per 1000 people. 76.6% of married couples reported they had lived together before marriage. The crude divorce rate was 1.7 per 1000 people. The median length to divorce was 11.2 years. 44.8% of divorces in New South Wales involved children. 16.8% of the total marriages that took place in 2016 were classified as second marriages for one or both partners.

Victoria

The crude marriage rate for Victoria was 5.1 per 1000 people. 79.6% of married couples reported they had lived together before marriage. The crude divorce rate 1.8 per 1000 people. The median length to divorce was 11.8 years. 46.1% of divorces in Victoria involved children. 15.7% of the total marriages that took place in 2016 were classified as second marriages for one or both partners, which was the lowest percentage in Australia.

Queensland

The crude marriage rate for Queensland was 4.7 per 1000 people. 86% of married couples reported they had lived together before marriage. The crude divorce rate 2.2 per 1000 people. The median length to divorce was 12.4 years. 49.4% of divorces in Queensland involved children. 19.9% of the total marriages that took place in 2016 were classified as second marriages for one or both partners, which was the highest percentage in Australia.

South Australia

The crude marriage rate for South Australia was 4.9 per 1000 people. 83.8% of married couples reported they had lived together before marriage. The crude divorce rate 1.8 per 1000 people. The median length to divorce was 12.3 years. 48% of divorces in South Australia involved children. 17.9% of the total marriages that took place in 2016 were classified as second marriages for one or both partners.

Western Australia

The crude marriage rate of Western Australia was 4.7 per 1000 people. 84.3% of married couples reported they had lived together before marriage. The crude divorce rate 2.1 per 1000 people. The median length to divorce was 12.3 years. 48.3% of divorces in Western Australia involved children. 17.5% of the total marriages that took place in 2016 were classified as second marriages for one or both partners.

Tasmania

The crude marriage rate for Tasmania was 4.8 per 1000 people. 87.8% of married couples reported they had lived together before marriage. The crude divorce rate 2 per 1000 people. The median length to divorce was 14.1 years. 45.6% of divorces in Tasmania involved children. 19.8% of the total marriages that took place in 2016 were classified as second marriages for one or both partners.

Northern Territory

The crude marriage rate for the Northern Territory was 3.2 per 1000 people. 81.2% of married couples reported they had lived together before marriage. The crude divorce rate 1.3 per 1000 people. The median length to divorce was 11 years. 47.1% of divorces in the Northern Territory involved children. 19.4% of the total marriages that took place in 2016 were classified as second marriages for one or both partners. The Northern Territory was the only state or territory where there were more males applied for divorce than females in 2016, with 90 males filing for divorce as opposed to 78 females.

ACT

The crude marriage rate in the ACT was 3 per 1000 people. 83.2% of married couples reported they had lived together before marriage. The median length to divorce was 13.5 years. 47.4% of divorces in the ACT involved children. 16.5% of the total marriages that took place in 2016 were classified as second marriages for one or both partners.

Australian vs The world

  • In the United Kingdom in 2016 there were 106,959 divorces, 8.9 divorces per 1000 people, which was an increase of 5.8% from 2015
  • In the United States of America in 2016 there were 827,261 divorces, 16.9 divorces per 1000 people, which was an increase of 3.2% from 2015
  • In China in 2015 there were 3.84 million divorces, 2.8 divorces per 1000 people, which was an increase of 5.9% from 2014
  • In New Zealand in 2016 there were 8169 divorces, 8.7 divorces per every 1000 people married, which was a decrease of 4.2% from 2015
  • In Norway in 2017 there were 9848 divorces, 1.9 per 1000 people, which was an increase of 5.1% from 2016

The history of divorce

The introduction of the English Divorce Act in 1857 was brought across to the Australian colonies in the same year. The Act made divorce easier for men than for women, giving men the option to file for divorce after one act of adultery on the woman’s behalf but women could only file for divorce if the man’s adultery was combined with another offense such as cruelty, desertion or bigamy. No fault divorce became legal in Australia in 1975 with the Family Law Act, which decreed couples only needed to prove an irreconcilable breakdown of their marriage. The rate of divorce increased dramatically after the law passed. The crude divorce rate per 1000 residents in 1970 was one divorce. After the Family Law Act passed in 1975 the rate jumped to 4.6 in 1976. The rate has steadily decreased from that year to now sit at two divorces per 1000 residents in 2016.

http://www.abs.gov.au/ausstats/abs@.nsf/mf/3310.0
https://www.huffingtonpost.com.au/mark-mccrindle/is-australia-really-the-l_b_9129164.html
https://www.cmlaw.com.au/blog/post/australian-statistics-divorce/
http://www.utas.edu.au/library/companion_to_tasmanian_history/M/Marriage%20and%20divorce.html
https://www.ons.gov.uk/peoplepopulationandcommunity/birthsdeathsandmarriages/divorce/bulletins/divorcesinenglandandwales/2016
http://m.chinadaily.com.cn/en/2016-07/12/content_26055052.htm
http://archive.stats.govt.nz/browse_for_stats/people_and_communities/marriages-civil-unions-and-divorces/MarriagesCivilUnionsandDivorces_HOTPYeDec16/Commentary.aspx
https://www.ssb.no/en/ekteskap/

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