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3307.0.55.001 - Divorces, Australia, 2005  
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Note: A minor correction was made to the first paragraph under APPLICANT FOR DIVORCE in the Main Features. The commentary now refers to 1995 (instead of 1994) and 1985 (instead of 1984).

Additional information has been added to explain the apparent increase in the number of divorces in WA in 2005, which is actually a correction from the record low reported in 2004. An extra paragraph has been included in the Explanatory Notes (see paragraph 19a). Also, in the Main Features (in the 'Summary' tab) a footnote has been added to the table NUMBER OF DIVORCES INDICATORS, by jurisdiction - Selected years from 1985 to 2005.



NOTES


ABOUT THIS PUBLICATION

This electronic product, Divorces, Australia (cat. no. 3307.0.55.001) provides information on divorces granted in Australia in 2005. Key indicators of national and state divorces are included in the analytical commentary below. Detailed divorce tables are available in a data cube. The 2005 data cube can be accessed through the 'Details' tab at the top of this page. Explanatory notes, abbreviations and a glossary of terms can be accessed through the 'Explanatory Notes' tab.

Information on divorces from 2003 onwards is available in the electronic product, Divorces, Australia (cat. no. 3307.0.55.001), free on the ABS website. Information on divorces for years prior to 2003 is available in the hardcopy publication Marriages and Divorces, Australia (cat. no. 3310.0), on request. Contact the National Information and Referral Service on 1300 135 070 or email <client.services@abs.gov.au> for further information.


UNAVAILABILITY OF DATA

Post 2001 Estimated Resident Population (ERP) by marital status is not yet available. Therefore in Table 3, 2001 data is the latest available year.


ERP DATA

The ERP at 30 June 2001 and for previous years used in the calculation of crude and age-specific divorce rates in this product is final. ERP at 30 June 2004 is revised and estimates for 2005 are preliminary.


STATE AND TERRITORY DATA

Divorce statistics are based upon the state in which the divorces are granted, rather than the state of usual residence of the applicants (except for years 1993 and 1994).

From 2004, the Brisbane Federal Magistrates Court (FMC) in Queensland has also completed cases from applications of usual residents of Northern NSW. This had also occurred up to 2001, however in 2002 and 2003 the cases were processed through the Newcastle FMC, NSW. Similarly, the ACT Family Court hears cases from much of south-eastern NSW and part of Victoria. Divorces of usual residents in 'Other Territories' are granted in the nearest state or territory (eg divorces for usual residents of Jervis Bay are included in the NSW jurisdiction).

These factors can impact on the interpretation of state and territory data. Divorce rates are calculated using the number of divorces granted in a state or territory divided by the estimated residential population of that state or territory. Therefore, they do not accurately reflect the crude divorce rate or the age specific divorce rates of the usual residents of that state or territory, particularly in the states and territories identified above. As a result, this publication does not contain any crude divorce rates or age specific divorce rates for the ACT.

The ABS advises caution in the interpretation of data at a state or territory level (See paragraphs 14 to 19 of the explanatory notes for more information).


CHANGES IN THIS ISSUE

There are no significant changes in layout and content of this issue. There were changes to the processing arrangements. In 2005 all divorce processing was completed by the FCA rather than the ABS. These new arrangements had no major impacts on the data (See paragraph 12 of the explanatory notes for more information).


INQUIRIES

For further information about these and related statistics, contact the National Information and Referral Service on 1300 135 070 or by sending an email to <client.services@abs.gov.au>.


SUMMARY COMMENTARY


DIVORCES GRANTED

Across Australia the number of divorces decreased by 348 (0.7%), from 52,747 in 2004 to 52,399 in 2005. In 2005, the number of divorces in Australia represented the fourth annual decrease since a high of 55,330 in 2001. There was a 2.4% decrease in 2002. After 2002, the decline in the number of divorces has slowed with each successive year.

Divorces in 2005 represented an increase of 5.4% on the number granted in 1995 (49,712), and a 31.6% increase on the number granted in 1985 (39,830).

Divorces granted, Australia
Graph: Divorces granted, Australia, over last 20 years

Of all Australian states and territories in 2005, the highest number of divorces were granted in New South Wales (15,172), followed by Victoria (12,512) and Queensland (12,383).




NUMBER OF DIVORCES INDICATORS, by jurisdiction - Selected years from 1985 to 2005

NSW
Vic.
Qld
SA
WA (a)
Tas.
NT
ACT

NUMBER OF DIVORCES

1985
11,871
9,688
6,816
4,216
4,039
1,169
301
1,730
1995
14,945
11,838
10,192
4,199
5,040
1,279
432
1,787
2000
14,756
12,401
10,092
4,036
5,276
1,329
455
1,561
2001
16,057
13,722
12,085
4,545
5,351
1,439
447
1,684
2002
16,957
12,987
10,920
4,409
5,252
1,386
516
1,577
2003
16,285
12,865
10,681
4,151
5,685
1,336
490
1,652
2004
15,007
12,544
13,279
4,147
4,337
1,404
434
1,595
2005
15,172
12,512
12,383
3,669
5,265
1,346
470
1,582

(a) The apparent increase in the number of divorces in WA in 2005 is a correction from the record low reported in 2004. See Explanatory Note, paragraph 19a, for more detail.




DIVORCE RATES

In 2005, the Australian crude divorce rate (the number of divorces per 1,000 population) was 2.6. The crude divorce rate has been decreasing slowly since 2001 when it was 2.9.

Crude divorce rate, Australia

Graph: Divorce rates, Australia, over last 20 years

The latest available divorce rates based on the married population are for 2001. The divorce rate of the married population in 2001 was 13.1 per 1,000 married males or females. This represents an increase from 11.9 per 1,000 married males and 12.0 per 1,000 married females in 2000 and an increase from 11.6 per 1,000 married males and 11.5 per 1,000 married females in 1991 (See paragraph 20 of the Explanatory Notes for more detail).


LIKELIHOOD TO DIVORCE

Analysis of the most recent available data shows that the expectation of divorce is increasing. If a newly-born group of babies was exposed to 1997-1999 rates of marriage, widowhood, divorce, remarriage and mortality, 32% of their marriages would end in divorce. This is an increase on the proportion expected if 1990-1992 rates were applied (29%) and if 1985-1987 rates were applied (28%).

These trends are identified in a 'net nuptiality table' method that allows the calculation of marital events for future populations based upon current age-patterns of mortality, marriage, divorce, widowhood, and remarriage. (See Glossary for more details.)

For further information on likelihood to divorce see the Special Article 'Lifetime Marriage Formation and Marriage Dissolution in Australia' p.84 of Marriages and Divorces, Australia, 2000 (cat. no. 3310.0).


AGE AT DIVORCE

The median age at divorce continued to increase in 2005, in line with a long term trend. The median age of males at divorce was 43.5 years, up from 43.0 years in 2004. In 1995, the median age of divorce was 40.0 years for males and in 1985 it was 37.1 years. Similarly, for females, the median age at divorce for 2005 increased to 40.8 years from 40.3 years in 2004. The comparative median ages for females at divorce for 1995 and 1985 were 37.1 years and 34.4 years respectively.

For both males and females the state or territory with the oldest median age at divorce for 2005 was Tasmania (44.7 years for males and 42.5 years for females). In 2005, the state or territory with the youngest median age at divorce for males was New South Wales (42.8 years) while for females it was the Northern Territory (39.8 years).
The rise in the median age at divorce is associated with increasing age at marriage and the increase in the interval between marriage and divorce.

In 2005, the median age at marriage for divorcing males was 27.3 years, up from 27.1 years in 2004 and 25.6 years in 1995. For divorcing females, the median age at marriage was 24.8 years in 2005, up from 24.6 years in 2004 and 23 years in 1995.

In 2005, the state or territory with the youngest median age at first marriage was the Tasmania for males (26.9 years) and South Australia for females (24.4 years). The state and territory with the oldest median age at first marriage was the New South Wales for males (27.6 years) and females (25.1 years).

Median age at divorce, Australia

Graph: Median age at divorce, by sex, Australia, over last 20 years





RELATIVE AGE OF DIVORCING PARTIES

At divorce, the difference between the median age of divorcing parties has been between 2.7 and 2.9 years over the last 20 years. In 2004 and 2005, the difference between the median age of divorcing parties was 2.7 years.

In 2005, 10.3% of divorcing couples were of the same age, 68.0% involved a younger wife and 20.0% involved a younger husband. Of all divorcing couples, 32.4% were aged 1-2 years apart, a further 21.8% 3-4 years apart, and 23.5% were aged 5-9 years apart. Couples with an age difference of 10 years or more accounted for 10.3% of divorcing couples.

The bigger the age difference of the divorcing couple, the more likely the divorcing husband was to be older than the wife. In 2005, for divorcing couples with an age difference of 1-2 years, 68.8% had an older husband. For divorcing couples with an age difference of 10 years or more, 87.1% had an older husband.

Age of divorcing parties at divorce, Australia


Age of divorcing parties at divorce, Australia


AGE-SPECIFIC DIVORCE RATES

Males aged 40-44 years experienced the highest divorce rate in 2005 (12.3 per 1,000 males aged 40-44). This was followed by males aged 35-39 (11.8 per 1,000 males aged 35-39) and 45-49 years (11.5 per 1,000 males aged 45-49). In 2004 the crude divorce rates for males aged 35-39, 40-44 and 45-49 years were 12.5, 12.2 and 11.5 per 1,000 respectively.

In 2005, females aged 35-39 years experienced the highest divorce rate (12.9 per 1,000 females aged 35-39). This was followed by the age groups 40-44 and 30-34 years with rates of 12.1 per 1,000 and 11.8 per 1,000 respectively. In 2004, the comparative divorce rates were 12.4 per 1,000 for females aged 30-34, 12.9 per 1,000 females aged 35-39 years, and 12.1 per 1,000 for females aged 40-44 years.


DURATION OF MARRIAGE FOR DIVORCING COUPLES

The median duration of marriage to both separation and divorce is increasing over time. The median duration of marriage to separation has risen from 8.7 years in 2004 to 8.8 years in 2005. In 1995, median duration of marriage to separation was 7.6 years.The median duration of marriage to divorce in 2005 was 12.6 years, compared with 12.3 years in 2004 and 11 years in 1995.

The difference between the median duration of marriage to separation and median duration of marriage to divorce is also increasing. In 1995 the difference was 3.4 years; in 2005 it was 3.8 years.

In 2005, 5.6% of divorces involved separation within the first year of marriage, 32.2% within the first five years and a further 22.1% of divorcing couples separated within five to nine years of marriage. In 2005, 45.6% of divorcing couples separated after 10 years of marriage.

Of the divorcing couples in 2005, 15.2% were married less than five years, 25% between five and nine years and 59.8% were married for 10 years or more. In 2005, 16.5% couples who divorced had been married for 25 years or more compared with 15.7% in 2004.

In 2005, the shortest median durations of marriage to separation and marriage to divorce occurred in divorces granted in New South Wales (7.9 years and 11.4 years respectively). The longest median durations occurred in divorces granted in Tasmania (10.5 years and 14.4 years).

Median duration to separation and divorce, Australia

Median duration to separation and divorce, last 20 years, Australia


APPLICANT FOR DIVORCE

As in previous years, more females (40.8%) than males (30.6%) lodged applications for divorce in 2005. Over time there has been an increase in the number of joint applications for divorce. In 2005, 28.5% of divorces were the result of joint applications, up from 28% in 2004, 18.1% in 1995 and 4.8% in 1985.

The median duration of marriage to divorce was shorter for joint applicants (11.7 years) and female applicants (11.9 years) than for male applicants (14.4 years).

There was a wide difference in joint applications as a proportion of all divorces, within state and territories. Divorces granted in Western Australia contained the highest proportion of joint applications (35.9% of applicants) while the lowest proportion was for divorces granted in South Australia (24.4% of applicants).


Type of applicant, Australia


Type of applicant, Australia


DIVORCES INVOLVING CHILDREN

Over the last 20 years, the proportion of divorces involving children under 18 years has decreased from 60.6% in 1985 and 52.4% in 1994 to 49.8% in 2005. The number of children involved in divorce in 2005 (49,358) increased 0.2% from 49,260 in 2004 and is 5.5% (46,800) higher compared with 1985. The number of divorces involving children and the number of children involved in divorce were not available in 1995.

In 43.7% of divorces involving children in 2005, there were two children involved compared with 36.6% involving only one child, 14.9% involving three and 4.8% involving four or more children.

Of divorces involving children aged below 18 in 2005, the age of the youngest child was less than 5 years for 24.3% of divorces, 5 to 9 years for 36.4% and above 10 years for 39.3%.

In 2005, the state or territory with the highest proportion of divorces involving children was the Northern Territory (53.2%), followed by Queensland (52.2%) and the Australian Capital Territory (52.2%). The state or territory with the lowest proportion of divorces involving children was New South Wales with 46.9%.

Proportion of divorces involving children, Australia
Proportion of divorces involving children, Australia

COUNTRY OF BIRTH OF DIVORCING PARTIES

In 2005, 55.7% of divorces granted were to couples who were both born in Australia. Divorces to couples born in the same overseas country accounted for 12.9% of divorces granted in 2005. Divorces granted to couples who were born in different countries accounted for 27.7% of total divorces.

Of those couples who had chosen a partner from a different country, 43.4% (6,299) were overseas-born males divorcing Australian-born females, and 35.5% (5,150) were overseas-born females divorcing Australian-born males.

For divorces granted in 2005, the most common countries of birth other than Australia, for both husbands and wives were the United Kingdom, New Zealand, Viet Nam and China. These birth places accounted for 43.9% of overseas born husbands and 42.7% of overseas born wives who were granted a divorce in 2005. These data are relatively consistent with the most common places of birth of Australian residents. United Kingdom, New Zealand, Viet Nam and China were ranked first, second, fifth and sixth in terms of overseas born populations resident in Australia in 2001.


SELECTED DIVORCE INDICATORS, Australia - Selected years from 1985 to 2005

1985
1995
2000
2001
2002
2003
2004
2005

ALL DIVORCES

Divorces granted (no.)
39,830
49,712
49,906
55,330
54,004
53,145
52,747
52,399
Crude divorce rate(a) (rate)
2.5
2.8
2.6
2.9
2.7
2.7
2.6
2.6
Median duration of marriage
To separation (years)
7.7
7.6
8.2
8.3
8.6
8.7
8.7
8.8
To divorce (years)
10.6
11.0
11.6
11.8
12.0
12.2
12.3
12.6
Divorces involving children(b)
Divorces (no.)
24,130
na
26,295
28,345
26,820
26,637
26,289
26,087
Proportion of all divorces (%)
60.6
na
52.7
51.2
49.7
50.1
49.8
49.8
Number of children (no.)
46,800
na
49,612
53,396
50,509
49,850
49,260
49,358
Average number of children per divorce (no.)
1.9
na
1.9
1.9
1.9
1.9
1.9
1.9
Relative birthplace of parties(c)
Both born in Australia (no.)
24,342
na
28,728
32,139
na
30,674
30,729
29,171
Both born overseas (no.)
4,446
na
6,541
7,235
na
7,055
6,904
6,761
Born in different countries (no.)
10,680
na
14,246
15,433
na
14,223
14,375
14,509
Applicant
Husband (no.)
15,856
16,864
15,348
16,608
16,114
17,229
16,365
16,020
Wife (no.)
22,073
23,904
24,595
26,035
24,049
22,870
21,614
21,398
Joint (no.)
1,901
8,974
9,963
12,687
13,841
13,046
14,768
14,955

HUSBAND

Age-specific divorce rates(d)
Age group (years)
24 and under (rate)
1.6
0.8
0.5
0.5
0.4
0.4
0.4
0.3
25-29 (rate)
10.1
7.8
5.8
6.2
5.5
5.3
4.9
4.5
30-34 (rate)
13.2
12.8
11.6
12.4
11.5
10.8
10.1
9.7
35-39 (rate)
12.9
13.2
12.7
13.6
13.1
12.6
12.5
11.8
40-44 (rate)
11.3
12.3
12.1
13.3
13.2
12.6
12.2
12.3
45-49 (rate)
9.1
11.5
10.9
12.1
12.1
11.7
11.5
11.5
50-54 (rate)
6.5
8.6
8.9
9.9
9.5
9.5
9.5
9.4
55-59 (rate)
4.6
5.6
5.9
6.8
6.9
7.1
6.8
7.0
60-64 (rate)
2.7
3.6
3.7
4.4
4.2
4.3
4.5
4.6
65 and over (rate)
1.1
1.5
1.4
1.5
1.5
1.5
1.6
1.7
Median age of husband
At marriage (years)
24.0
25.6
26.4
26.5
26.7
26.9
27.1
27.3
At separation (years)
34.4
36.7
38.1
38.4
38.9
39.2
39.5
39.9
At divorce (years)
37.1
40.0
41.4
41.8
42.2
42.6
43.0
43.5

WIFE

Age-specific divorce rates(d)
Age group (years)
24 and under (rate)
3.4
2.0
1.2
1.3
1.2
1.1
1.0
0.9
25-29 (rate)
13.2
11.8
9.6
10.0
8.9
8.5
8.0
7.3
30-34 (rate)
13.3
13.9
13.3
14.4
13.7
13.1
12.4
11.8
35-39 (rate)
12.1
13.1
12.6
13.9
13.6
13.1
12.9
12.9
40-44 (rate)
10.2
11.8
11.5
12.8
12.7
12.3
12.1
12.1
45-49 (rate)
7.6
9.6
9.5
10.6
10.4
10.5
10.4
10.3
50-54 (rate)
4.7
6.6
6.7
7.4
7.3
7.3
7.5
7.7
55-59 (rate)
2.9
3.8
3.9
4.7
4.6
4.7
4.7
4.9
60-64 (rate)
1.6
2.1
2.2
2.5
2.6
2.8
2.9
2.9
65 and over (rate)
0.5
0.5
0.5
0.6
0.6
0.6
0.6
0.6
Median age of wife
At marriage (years)
21.4
23.0
23.8
24.0
24.2
24.4
24.6
24.8
At separation (years)
31.7
33.9
35.3
35.7
36.2
36.4
36.8
37.1
At divorce (years)
34.4
37.1
38.6
39.1
39.5
39.9
40.3
40.8

na not available
(a) Per 1,000 estimated resident population.
(b) Unmarried children of the marriage, aged under 18 years, see Glossary. Country of birth not available for 1995.
(c) Excludes divorces where country of birth of one or both partners is not stated. Country of birth not available for 1995 and 2002.
(d) Per 1,000 estimated resident males or females. Males under 18 years and females under 16 years are excluded from the population.




SELECTED DIVORCE INDICATORS, States and territories - 2005

NSW
Vic.
Qld
SA
WA
Tas.
NT
ACT(a)
Aust.

Divorces granted (no.)
15,172
12,512
12,383
3,669
5,265
1,346
470
1,582
52,399
Median duration of marriage
To separation (years)
7.9
9.0
9.0
9.7
9.5
10.5
8.5
9.5
8.8
To divorce (years)
11.4
12.6
12.9
13.4
13.6
14.4
12.6
13.2
12.6
Divorces involving children(b)
Divorces (no.)
7,121
6,185
6,459
1,894
2,680
672
250
826
26,087
Proportion of all divorces (%)
46.9
49.4
52.2
51.6
50.9
49.9
53.2
52.2
49.8
Number of children (no.)
13,122
11,772
12,464
3,553
5,126
1,313
479
1,529
49,358
Average number of children per divorce (no.)
1.8
1.9
1.9
1.9
1.9
2.0
1.9
1.9
1.9
Applicant
Husband (no.)
4,529
3,872
3,977
1,083
1,501
419
158
481
16,020
Wife (no.)
6,030
5,220
5,291
1,689
1,865
575
147
581
21,398
Joint (no.)
4,608
3,413
3,114
897
1,887
352
165
519
14,955
Median age of husband
At marriage (years)
27.6
27.1
27.2
27.1
27.3
26.9
27.4
27.1
27.3
At separation (years)
39.4
39.8
40.0
40.7
40.6
41.0
39.3
39.9
39.9
At divorce (years)
42.8
43.3
43.7
44.3
44.4
44.7
43.4
43.7
43.5
Median age of wife
At marriage (years)
25.1
24.8
24.8
24.4
24.6
24.7
24.7
24.9
24.8
At separation (years)
36.5
37.1
37.3
37.7
37.7
38.7
35.6
37.7
37.1
At divorce (years)
40.0
40.7
41.0
41.5
41.6
42.5
39.8
41.3
40.8

(a) Due to the large number of divorces granted in the ACT to persons usually resident in another state, numbers shown for the ACT are not representative of divorce in the ACT population.
(b) Unmarried children of the marriage, aged under 18 years, see Glossary.


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