Australian Bureau of Statistics

Rate the ABS website
ABS Home > Statistics > By Release Date
3310.0 - Marriages and Divorces, Australia, 2001  
Previous ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 22/08/2002   
   Page tools: Print Print Page Print all pages in this productPrint All RSS Feed RSS Bookmark and Share Search this Product

MARRIAGE AND DIVORCE TRENDS

In 2001 there were 103,100 marriages registered in Australia, the lowest number recorded since 1978 (103,000). The 2001 figure was a decrease of 10,300 marriages when compared with 2000 and a decrease of 10,800 marriages when compared with 1981.

While marriage rates per 1,000 unmarried population (aged 15 years and over) are not yet available for 2001, the marriage rate trend since 1981 shows that marriage is declining. Marriage rates for the unmarried population fell in 2000 to 34 per 1,000 unmarried men and 32 per 1,000 unmarried women from 35 and 33, respectively in 1999 and 55 and 53, respectively in 1981.

There were 55,300 divorces granted in Australia in 2001, the highest number granted in the last 20 years. This was an increase of 5,400 on the number of divorces granted in 2000 and an increase of 13,900 on 1981.

Divorce rates for the married population are not yet available for 2001. However, since 1981 divorce rates, while fluctuating, have shown an increasing trend. In 1987 the divorce rate was at a low of 11 divorces per 1,000 married population. Since 1987, divorce rates, while still fluctuating, have shown an upward trend to a high of 13 in 1996. The divorce rate in 2000 was 12.

MARRIAGE RATES(a) AND DIVORCE RATES(b)
Groph: Time series, marriage and divorce rates
(a) Per 1,000 unmarried men or women, aged 15 years and over.
(b) Per 1,000 married men or women, aged 15 years and over.


INTRODUCTION OF THE FEDERAL MAGISTRATES SERVICE

In September 2000 the Federal Magistrates Service was introduced. The Federal Magistrates Service was established to provide a simpler and accessible service for litigants and to ease the workload of both the Family Court of Australia and the Federal Court of Australia.

In 2001, the first full year of operation, 51% of all divorces granted were dealt with by the Federal Magistrates Service.


INTERNATIONAL COMPARISONS

The crude marriage rate in Australia of 5.3 per 1,000 population in 2001 was lower than in the United States of America (8.3 per 1,000 in 1998), the same as New Zealand (5.3 in 1998) and above that of the United Kingdom (5.1 in 1998) and Canada (5.1 in 1997).

The crude divorce rate in Australia was 2.8 per 1,000 population in 2001. It was lower than the United States of America (4.2 per 1,000 in 1998) and the United Kingdom (2.9 in 1996) and higher than New Zealand (2.7 in 1998) and Canada (2.3 in 1997).


LIKELIHOOD TO MARRY AND DIVORCE

The proportion of men and women who will ever marry is declining. If the 1997-1999 first marriage rates were to continue into the future it is estimated that 29% of men and 23% of women will never marry. The corresponding proportions based on 1985-1987 rates were 21% and 14%, respectively.

The likelihood of a marriage ending in divorce is increasing. If the 1997-1999 rates for marriage, widowing, divorce, remarriage and mortality were applied to a newly-born group of babies 32% of their marriages would end in divorce. This is an increase on the proportion expected if 1985-1987 rates were applied (28%).


AGE AT MARRIAGE AND DIVORCE

The trend towards older age at marriage continued in 2001. The median age at marriage for men was 31 years, rising from 26 years in 1981. For women the median age rose to 29 years in 2001 from 23 years in 1981. The median age at first marriage also rose. In 2001 it was 29 years for men, increasing from 24 years in 1981. For women, the median age at first marriage was 27 years in 2001, increasing from 22 years in 1981.

In line with the increasing age at marriage the median age at divorce also rose. In 2001 the median age at divorce for men was 42 years (up from 36 years in 1981) and 39 years for women (up from 33 years in 1981).


DURATION OF MARRIAGE FOR DIVORCING COUPLES

In 2001, 17% of couples had divorced within the first five years of marriage, while a further 26% had divorced in the following five-year period. The most common single interval between marriage and divorce was between five and six years (6%). In 2001 the median duration of marriage to divorce was 12 years, up from 10 years in 1981.


CHILDREN OF REMARRIAGE AND DIVORCE

In 2001, 33% each of grooms and brides who remarried had children (aged under 16 years) from previous marriages. This was double the proportions in 1981 when 16% of grooms and 17% of brides remarrying had children.

The proportion of divorces involving children has fallen over the last 20 years. In 2001 51% of divorces granted involved children, down from 61% in 1981. However, because of the increase in the number of divorces (up by 34%) the number of children involved in divorce has increased. In 2001, 53,400 children were involved in divorce, up from 49,600 in 1981.


CATEGORY OF CELEBRANT

Marriages performed by civil celebrants now outnumber marriages performed by ministers of religion. In 2001, for the third successive year, 53% of all marriages were performed by civil celebrants, compared with 38% in 1981.


COHABITATION PRIOR TO MARRIAGE

The proportion of men and women choosing to cohabit prior to entering a registered marriage continued to rise. In 2001, 72% of couples indicated they had cohabited prior to marriage compared with 31% in 1981.


MARITAL STATUS OF THE POPULATION

The estimated resident population, aged 15 years and over, by marital status at 30 June 2001 is not yet available. The total population, aged 15 years and over, is 15.5 million people at 30 June 2001. The latest available marital status estimates are at 30 June 2000.

In June 2000 there were 15.2 million people aged 15 years and over in the population, a rise of 14% on 1990. The 2000 population was comprised of 4.9 million never married, 8.3 million married, 932,000 widowed and 1.1 million divorced persons. The largest proportional increase over the past ten years was in the divorced population, increasing by 63% between 1990 and 2000.

Between 1990 and 2000 the median age of the population, aged 15 years and over, increased from 39 years in 1990 to 42 years in 2000. The increase in the median age is evident in each marital status and for both males and females).


MARRIAGES, SUMMARY DATA, 2001

NSW
Vic.
Qld
SA
WA
Tas.
NT
ACT
Aust.

ALL MARRIAGES

Marriages registeredno.
36,109
24,953
20,314
7,434
9,785
2,182
781
1,572
103,130
Crude marriage raterate
5.5
5.2
5.6
4.9
5.1
4.6
3.9
4.9
5.3
Previous marital status
First marriage both partnersno.
24,728
17,292
13,000
4,804
6,273
1,337
493
1,060
68,987
First marriage one partnerno.
6,497
4,344
3,865
1,367
1,937
437
164
278
18,889
Remarriage both partnersno.
4,884
3,317
3,449
1,263
1,575
408
124
234
15,254
Marriages performed by
Ministers of religion
Numberno.
18,193
12,112
8,665
3,670
3,841
913
214
764
48,372
Proportion%
50.4
48.5
42.7
49.4
39.3
41.8
27.4
48.6
46.9
Civil celebrants
Numberno.
17,916
12,841
11,649
3,764
5,944
1,269
567
808
54,758
Proportion%
49.6
51.5
57.3
50.6
60.7
58.2
72.6
51.4
53.1

BRIDEGROOM

Age-specific marriage rates(a)
Age group (years)
19 and underrate
1.0
0.7
1.0
0.5
0.8
0.7
0.5
1.0
0.9
20-24rate
24.2
18.8
24.8
21.1
18.7
21.9
12.2
17.7
21.8
25-29rate
49.6
48.4
47.9
45.6
41.7
43.3
21.2
41.0
47.2
30-34rate
30.9
31.4
31.7
29.3
30.1
28.9
17.3
25.2
30.6
35-39rate
16.5
16.0
17.2
14.7
16.4
16.0
12.3
13.8
16.2
40-44rate
9.9
9.0
10.8
8.4
10.0
10.3
9.5
7.1
9.7
45-49rate
6.6
6.6
7.5
7.0
7.3
7.3
7.5
6.3
6.9
50 and overrate
3.1
2.8
3.9
3.3
3.6
3.2
3.5
3.8
3.3
Marital status at marriage
Never marriedno.
27,781
19,303
14,843
5,465
7,176
1,547
566
1,168
77,849
Widowedno.
654
500
420
195
206
63
11
35
2,084
Divorcedno.
7,674
5,150
5,051
1,774
2,403
572
204
369
23,197
Totalno.
36,109
24,953
20,314
7,434
9,785
2,182
781
1,572
103,130
Median age at marriage
Never marriedyears
28.6
28.9
28.5
28.7
29.0
28.7
29.5
28.1
28.7
Widowedyears
62.4
61.5
62.1
61.9
61.3
(b)n.p.
(b)n.p.
(b)n.p.
61.9
Divorcedyears
42.7
42.7
43.3
44.0
43.4
43.6
44.1
42.8
43.1
Totalyears
30.3
30.5
30.6
30.8
31.3
31.2
32.1
30.1
30.6

BRIDE

Age-specific marriage rates(a)
Age group (years)
19 and underrate
5.5
3.5
4.2
3.0
3.1
3.0
3.0
3.3
4.2
20-24rate
41.0
32.9
39.8
37.2
33.3
36.7
21.1
28.7
37.1
25-29rate
49.3
48.7
48.7
48.5
46.0
44.2
22.8
39.1
48.0
30-34rate
25.6
25.6
25.9
23.4
25.5
23.6
18.3
21.7
25.3
35-39rate
11.9
11.7
12.3
12.1
12.4
11.4
10.8
11.2
12.0
40-44rate
7.5
6.6
8.1
6.8
7.8
6.9
6.8
5.7
7.3
45-49rate
5.5
5.1
6.3
6.0
5.8
6.3
5.0
4.5
5.6
50 and overrate
1.6
1.6
2.3
1.9
2.1
1.9
2.8
2.0
1.8
Marital status at marriage
Never marriedno.
28,172
19,625
15,022
5,510
7,307
1,564
584
1,230
79,014
Widowedno.
712
502
522
229
243
81
19
28
2,336
Divorcedno.
7,225
4,826
4,770
1,695
2,235
537
178
314
21,780
Totalno.
36,109
24,953
20,314
7,434
9,785
2,182
781
1,572
103,130
Median age at marriage
Never marriedyears
26.7
27.3
26.6
26.8
27.1
26.7
27.9
26.9
26.9
Widowedyears
53.7
54.5
54.6
57.6
52.4
(b)n.p.
(b)n.p.
(b)n.p.
54.4
Divorcedyears
39.0
39.4
39.6
40.1
39.9
40.1
38.9
40.2
39.5
Totalyears
28.3
28.7
28.6
28.7
29.0
29.0
29.9
28.3
28.6

n.p. not available for publication but included in totals where applicable, unless otherwise indicated
(a) Per 1,000 males or females, respectively, at 30 June. Males and females under 15 years are excluded from the population.
(b) Not statistically reliable due to the small numbers involved.



DIVORCES, SUMMARY DATA, 2001

NSW
Vic.
Qld
SA
WA
Tas.
NT
ACT
Aust.

ALL DIVORCES

Divorces grantedno.
16,057
13,722
12,085
4,545
5,351
1,439
447
1,684
55,330
Crude divorce raterate
2.4
2.8
3.3
3.0
2.8
3.0
2.2
(a)
2.8
Median duration of marriageyears
10.9
11.9
11.8
12.6
12.6
13.3
10.3
12.3
11.8
Median interval between
marriage and final separationyears
7.5
8.5
8.3
9.1
9.2
9.7
7.1
8.8
8.3
Divorces involving children
Numberno.
7,306
7,169
6,600
2,451
2,905
809
211
894
28,345
Proportion of total divorces%
45.5
52.2
54.6
53.9
54.3
56.2
47.2
53.1
51.2
Average issueaverage
1.9
1.9
1.9
1.9
1.9
1.9
1.9
1.9
1.9
Applicant
Husbandno.
4,988
4,211
3,540
1,334
1,473
420
127
515
16,608
Wifeno.
7,294
6,372
6,027
2,271
2,510
715
162
684
26,035
Jointno.
3,775
3,139
2,518
940
1,368
304
158
485
12,687

HUSBAND

Age-specific divorce rates(b)
Age group (years)
24 and underrate
0.5
0.5
0.7
0.6
0.4
0.6
0.4
(a)
0.5
25-29rate
5.6
6.2
7.7
6.1
5.2
7.1
4.5
(a)
6.2
30-34rate
10.9
12.5
14.7
12.8
11.0
12.8
8.3
(a)
12.4
35-39rate
11.8
13.9
15.9
14.2
13.0
15.6
9.3
(a)
13.6
40-44rate
11.1
13.4
15.5
14.2
13.1
16.8
10.7
(a)
13.3
45-49rate
10.2
12.3
13.5
12.9
12.4
13.1
8.1
(a)
12.0
50-54rate
8.2
9.7
11.6
10.8
10.1
10.4
7.2
(a)
9.8
55 and overrate
2.8
3.3
4.4
3.5
3.7
3.2
3.8
(a)
3.5
Median age of divorcee
At marriageyears
26.8
26.3
26.5
26.3
26.5
25.8
27.0
26.1
26.5
At final separationyears
38.1
38.2
38.6
38.9
39.1
39.1
37.5
38.6
38.4
At decree made absoluteyears
41.5
41.6
42.0
42.4
42.5
42.2
40.7
41.9
41.8

WIFE

Age-specific divorce rates(b)
Age group (years)
24 and underrate
1.2
1.2
1.4
1.3
1.2
1.1
1.2
(a)
1.3
25-29rate
9.0
9.4
12.3
10.8
8.7
11.3
7.3
(a)
10.0
30-34rate
12.8
14.1
16.2
15.2
13.4
14.9
11.6
(a)
14.2
35-39rate
11.5
14.1
16.5
15.1
13.9
15.1
8.0
(a)
13.8
40-44rate
11.2
12.6
14.3
13.6
12.8
15.1
11.1
(a)
12.8
45-49rate
8.6
10.5
12.3
11.4
11.6
12.6
7.0
(a)
10.5
50-54rate
6.2
7.3
8.6
7.9
7.6
7.5
7.5
(a)
7.4
55 and overrate
1.4
1.8
2.4
1.9
1.8
1.9
2.0
(a)
1.8
Median age of divorcee
At marriageyears
24.3
24.0
23.9
23.9
23.8
23.6
23.9
23.7
24.0
At final separationyears
35.4
35.6
35.7
36.3
36.3
36.9
33.6
36.0
35.7
At decree made absoluteyears
38.7
38.9
39.0
39.7
39.7
40.2
36.9
39.6
39.1

(a) Many divorces registered in the Australian Capital Territory involve applicants normally resident in areas surrounding the Australian Capital Territory. See paragraph 17 of the Explanatory Notes.
(b) Per 1,000 males or females, respectively, at 30 June. Males under 18 years and females under 16 years are excluded from the population.

Bookmark and Share. Opens in a new window

Commonwealth of Australia 2014

Unless otherwise noted, content on this website is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 2.5 Australia Licence together with any terms, conditions and exclusions as set out in the website Copyright notice. For permission to do anything beyond the scope of this licence and copyright terms contact us.