Marriage Rate Up, Divorce Rate Shrinks

25/11/2015 5:07 PM AEDT | Updated 15/07/2016 12:51 PM AEST
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Bride and groom figurines standing on two separated slices of wedding cake

The marriage rate is up and the divorce rate decreased slightly in 2014, but we’re making the decision to call it quits on our spouse slightly faster than previous years, new data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics shows.

The number of marriages increased by 2,238, or 1.9 percent, to 121,197 in 2014, while the number of divorces fell by 1,140, or 2.4 percent, to 46,498 over the same period.

Put another way, the crude marriage rate increased from 5.1 to 5.2 marriages per 1,000 people in 2014, while the crude divorce rate slipped from 2.1 in 2013 to 2.0 divorces per 1,000 people in 2014.

The time between marriage and divorce also tightened slightly in 2014, with the median duration from altar to divorce-court lasting 12 years, down from 12.1 years.

The largest proportion of divorce applications were from joint applicants, accounting for 41.5 per cent of divorces.

Female applicants accounted for 32.5 percent of divorce applications while male applicants accounted for 26.0 percent.

The ABS said the proportion of divorces granted after joint applications had been increasing for 20 years.

“This has continued in 2014 to the point where joint applicants are the highest applicant type for the fifth year in a row,” the ABS said in a statement.

"It basically looks like a plateau," said Australian Institute of Family Studies director Anne Hollonds of the data.

"I think that's a sign that that's probably now the rate for the Australian community -- this is what we're living with now."

Hollonds said the divorce rate was high in 1976, when no fault divorce came became the legal.

"It rose and rose over the decades, then it plateaued. The other thing that happened was the length of marriage -- between getting married and divorced -- got bigger.

The ABS said there were 19,281 divorces granted from joint applications in 2014, compared with 15,127 from female applicants and 12,090 from male applicants.

There’s been a slight increase in the median age of divorcing men and women at 45.2 and 42.5 years respectively, a slight increase of 0.4 years for males and 0.3 years for females.

Divorces involving children represented 47.0 percent of all divorces granted compared with 47.4 percent in 2013, with 40,152 children involved in divorce in 2014.

"People now are much more prepared to try harder, they get married later and, they are more choosy, more people are living together before marriage," Hollonds said.

"We're doing everything later now -- we stay at school later, we stay at work later. The 20s now are a period where people aren't even thinking about settling down. There's not that sense of settling down until the age of 30 now. Part of that is staying at school longer."

"What we're seeing in these latest results is a longer term trend, and it looks more like a plateau than a moving up or down in any particular direction."

Cohabitation rates have grown substantially since the 1980s, when the living together rate was around 22 percent. Now that figure is up near 80 per cent, Hollonds said.

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