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3307.0.55.001 - Divorces, Australia, 2006  
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NOTES


ABOUT THIS PUBLICATION


This electronic product, Divorces, Australia (cat. no. 3307.0.55.001) provides information on divorces granted in Australia in 2006. Key indicators of national and state divorces are included in the analytical commentary below. Detailed divorce tables are available in a data cube. The 2006 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.


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 2002, 2003, 2004 and 2005 is revised, and estimates for 2006 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 New South Wales. This had also occurred up to 2001, however in 2002 and 2003 the cases were processed through the Newcastle FMC, New South Wales. Similarly, the Australian Capital Territory Family Court hears cases from much of south-eastern New South Wales 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 New South Wales 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. Changes made to the processing arrangements in 2005 were maintained for 2006 divorces. All divorce processing was completed by the FCA rather than the ABS. These 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

Divorces granted, Australia

Graph showing number of divorces granted from 1986 to 2006


Across Australia the number of divorces decreased by 1,024 (2.0%), from 52,399 in 2005 to 51,375 in 2006. The number of divorces in Australia in 2006 represented the fifth annual decrease since a high of 55,330 in 2001. There was a 2.4% decrease in 2002, with the decline in the number of divorces slowing with each successive year to 2005.

Divorces in 2006 represented a decrease of 2.1% on the number granted in 1996 (52,466), but a 30.3% increase on the number granted in 1986 (39,417).


NUMBER OF DIVORCES INDICATORS, by jurisdiction - Selected years from 1986 to 2006

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

NUMBER OF DIVORCES

1986
11,661
9,670
7,042
3,776
4,001
1,245
381
1,641
1996
15,984
12,491
10,996
4,358
4,959
1,582
486
1,610
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
2006
14,482
12,110
12,175
3,913
5,544
1,233
426
1,491

(a) The apparent increase in the number of divorces in Western Australia in 2005 is a correction from the record low reported in 2004. See Explanatory Note, paragraph 20, for more detail.



Of all Australian states and territories in 2006, the highest number of divorces were granted in New South Wales (14,482), followed by Queensland (12,175) and Victoria (12,110).


DIVORCE RATES

Crude divorce rate, Australia
Graph showing crude divorce rate from 1986 to 2006




In 2006, the Australian crude divorce rate (the number of divorces per 1,000 population) was 2.5. The crude divorce rate has been decreasing slowly since 2001 when it was 2.9.

The latest available divorce rates based on the married population are taken from 2006 Census of Population and Housing.

The divorce rate of the married population in 2006 was 12.2 per 1,000 married males and 12.0 per 1,000 married females. This represents a decrease from 14.5 per 1,000 married males and females in 2001 and 14.2 per 1,000 married males and 14.1 per 1,000 married females in 1996 (See paragraph 20 of the Explanatory Notes for more detail).

Males aged 30-34 years had the highest divorce rate (19.5 per 1,000 married males) while the lowest divorce rate (2.2 per 1,000 married males) occurred among males aged 65 years and over.

The highest divorce rate for females is 20.4 per 1,000 married females aged 25-29 years compared with 1.4 divorces per 1,000 married females aged 65 years and over.


AGE AT DIVORCE

Median age at divorce, Australia
Graph showing median age at divorce from 1986 to 2006

The median age at divorce continued to increase in 2006, in line with a long term trend. The median age of males at divorce was 43.9 years, up from 43.5 years in 2005. In 1996, the median age of divorce was 40.2 years for males and in 1986 it was 37.5 years. Similarly, for females, the median age at divorce for 2006 increased to 41.1 years from 40.8 years in 2005. The comparative median ages for females at divorce for 1996 and 1986 were 37.4 years and 34.7 years respectively.

For both males and females the state or territory with the oldest median age at divorce for 2006 was Western Australia (44.7 years for males and 42.2 years for females). In 2006, the state or territory with the youngest median age at divorce for both males and females was Northern Territory, 42.9 years and 39.9 years respectively.

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 2006, the median age at marriage for divorcing males was 27.6 years, up from 27.3 years in 2005 and 25.8 years in 1996. For divorcing females, the median age at marriage was 25.1 years in 2006, up from 24.8 years in 2005 and 23.2 years in 1996.

In 2006, the state or territory with the youngest median age at marriage for divorcing males was South Australia (27.1 years) and Tasmania for females (24.6 years). The state and territory with the oldest median age at marriage was New South Wales for males (28.0 years) and Northern Territory for females (25.7 years).


RELATIVE AGE OF DIVORCING PARTIES

Age of divorcing parties at divorce, Australia

Graph showing age groups at divorces of both husband and wife in 2006

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 2006, the difference between the median age of divorcing parties was 2.8 years.

In 2006, 10.2% of divorcing couples were of the same age, 67.5% involved a younger wife and 20.4% involved a younger husband. Of all divorcing couples, 32.4% were aged 1-2 years apart, a further 21.3% 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 10.8% 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, 68.4% had an older husband. For divorcing couples with an age difference of 10 years or more, 87.8% had an older husband.


AGE-SPECIFIC DIVORCE RATES

Males aged 40-44 years experienced the highest divorce rate in 2006 (11.6 per 1,000 males aged 40-44). This was followed by males aged 35-39 and 45-49, both with 11.2 per 1,000 males. In 2005 the crude divorce rates for males aged 35-39, 40-44 and 45-49 years were 11.7, 12.3 and 11.5 per 1,000 respectively.

In 2006, females aged 35-39 years experienced the highest divorce rate (12.1 per 1,000 females aged 35-39). This was followed by the age groups 40-44 and 30-34 years with rates of 11.9 per 1,000 and 11.1 per 1,000 respectively. In 2005, the comparative divorce rates were 11.8 per 1,000 for females aged 30-34, 12.8 per 1,000 females aged 35-39 years, and 12.0 per 1,000 for females aged 40-44 years.


DURATION OF MARRIAGE FOR DIVORCING COUPLES


Median duration to separation and divorce, Australia

Graph showing median duration in years to separation and divorce from 1986 to 2006



The median duration of marriage to both separation and divorce has been increasing over time. However in 2006, although the median duration of marriage to separation has continued to rise the median duration of marriage to divorce has decreased slightly from 2005.

In 2006, the median duration of marriage to separation was 8.9 years an increase from 8.8 years in 2005 and from 1996 when the median duration of marriage to separation was 7.6 years. The median duration of marriage to divorce has been steadily increasing from a low of 10.1 years in 1988 and 1990 to 11 years in 1996 and a high of 12.6 years in 2005. The median duration of marriage in Australia shortened to 12.5 years in 2006.

The gap between the median duration of marriage to separation and median duration of marriage to divorce is also increasing over time. The difference has increased from 2.9 years in 1986 to 3.4 years in 1996 and although it peaked at 3.8 years in 2005, the difference (3.6 years) in 2006 is consistent with the longer term divergence.

In 2006, 5.9% of divorces involved separation within the first year of marriage, 32.5% within the first five years and a further 21.7% of divorcing couples separated within five to nine years of marriage. In 2006, 45.7% of divorcing couples separated after 10 years of marriage.

Of the divorcing couples in 2006, 15.5% were married less than five years, 24.9% between five and nine years and 59.6% were married for 10 years or more. In 2006, 16.3% couples who divorced had been married for 25 years or more compared with 16.5% in 2005.

In 2006, the shortest median durations of marriage to separation and marriage to divorce occurred in divorces granted in New South Wales (7.7 years and 11.2 years respectively). The longest median durations occurred in divorces granted in South Australia (10.2 years and 13.8 years).


APPLICANT FOR DIVORCE


Type of applicant, Australia

Graph showing percentage of husband, wife and joint applicants for divorce from 1986 to 2006


As in previous years, more females (40.0%) than males (29.5%) lodged applications for divorce in 2006. Over time there has been an increase in the number of joint applications for divorce. In 2006, 30.3% of divorces were the result of joint applications, up from 28.5% in 2005, 21.5% in 1996 and 7.4% in 1986.

The median duration of marriage to divorce was shorter for joint applicants and female applicants (both 11.9 years) than for male applicants (14.2 years).

There was a wide difference in joint applications as a proportion of all divorces, within state and territories. Western Australia had the highest proportion of joint applications (40.5% of divorces) while the lowest proportion was for divorces granted in Tasmania (22.7% of applicants). However, most states have between 25% and 35% joint applications.


DIVORCES INVOLVING CHILDREN

Proportion of divorces involving children, Australia

Graph showing proportion of divorces involving children from 1986 to 2006


Over the last 20 years, the proportion of divorces involving children under 18 years has decreased from 59.7% in 1986 and 53.6% in 1996 to 50.1% in 2006. The number of children involved in divorce in 2006 (48,396) decreased 1.9% from 49,358 in 2005 and 7.7% from 52,455 in 1996 and is 7.0% higher compared with 1986 (45,231).

In 43.0% of divorces involving children in 2006, there were two children involved compared with 37.5% involving only one child, 14.8% involving three and 4.7% involving four or more children.

Of divorces involving children aged below 18 in 2006, the age of the youngest child was over 10 years for 40.0% of divorces, 5 to 9 years for 36.2% and less than 5 years for 23.8%.

In 2006, the state or territory with the highest proportion of divorces involving children was Tasmania (53.4%), followed by South Australia (53.1%) and the Queensland (52.4%). The state or territory with the lowest proportion of divorces involving children was New South Wales with 47.0%.


COUNTRY OF BIRTH OF DIVORCING PARTIES

In 2006, 53.4% of divorces granted were to couples who were both born in Australia. This proportion has been decreasing steadily since 2001 when they accounted for 58.1% of all divorced couples.

Divorces to couples born in the same overseas country accounted for 13.8% of divorces granted in 2006. Divorces granted to couples who were born in different countries accounted for 28.1% of total divorces.

Of those couples who had chosen a partner from a different country, 41.6% (6,003) were overseas-born males divorcing Australian-born females, and 36.9% (5,325) were overseas-born females divorcing Australian-born males.

For divorces granted in 2006, 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 43.8% of overseas born husbands and 43.2% of overseas born wives who were granted a divorce in 2006. These data are relatively consistent with the most common places of birth of Australian residents. United Kingdom, New Zealand, China and Viet Nam were ranked first, second, third and fifth in terms of overseas born populations resident in Australia in 2006.


SELECTED DIVORCE INDICATORS, Australia - Selected years from 1986 to 2006

1986
1996
2001
2002
2003
2004
2005
2006

ALL DIVORCES

Divorces granted (no.)
39,417
52,466
55,330
54,004
53,145
52,747
52,399
51,375
Crude divorce rate(a) (rate)
2.5
2.9
2.9
2.7
2.7
2.6
2.6
2.5
Median duration of marriage
To separation (years)
7.6
7.6
8.3
8.6
8.7
8.7
8.8
8.9
To divorce (years)
10.5
11.0
11.8
12.0
12.2
12.3
12.6
12.5
Divorces involving children(b)
Divorces (no.)
23,530
28,138
28,345
26,820
26,637
26,289
26,087
25,733
Proportion of all divorces (%)
59.7
53.6
51.2
49.7
50.1
49.8
49.8
50.1
Number of children (no.)
45,231
52,455
53,396
50,509
49,850
49,260
49,358
48,396
Average number of children per divorce (no.)
1.90
1.90
1.88
1.88
1.87
1.87
1.87
1.88
Relative birthplace of parties(c)
Both born in Australia (no.)
23,817
29,369
32,139
na
30,674
30,729
29,171
27,416
Both born overseas (no.)
4,513
7,080
7,235
na
7,055
6,904
6,761
7,082
Born in different countries (no.)
10,868
15,705
15,433
na
14,223
14,375
14,509
14,430
Applicant
Husband (no.)
15,224
17,005
16,608
16,114
17,229
16,365
16,020
15,171
Wife (no.)
21,286
24,155
26,035
24,049
22,870
21,614
21,398
20,574
Joint (no.)
2,907
11,306
12,687
13,841
13,046
14,768
14,955
15,582

HUSBAND

Age-specific divorce rates(d)
Age group (years)
24 and under (rate)
1.6
0.8
0.5
0.4
0.4
0.4
0.3
0.4
25-29 (rate)
9.7
8.0
6.2
5.5
5.3
4.9
4.5
4.2
30-34 (rate)
12.4
13.0
12.4
11.5
10.8
10.1
9.7
9.1
35-39 (rate)
11.9
13.8
13.6
13.1
12.6
12.5
11.7
11.2
40-44 (rate)
11.1
13.0
13.3
13.2
12.6
12.2
12.3
11.6
45-49 (rate)
9.3
11.6
12.1
12.1
11.7
11.5
11.5
11.2
50-54 (rate)
6.9
9.2
9.9
9.5
9.5
9.5
9.4
9.5
55-59 (rate)
4.5
6.1
6.8
6.9
7.1
6.8
7.0
6.9
60-64 (rate)
2.8
3.9
4.4
4.2
4.3
4.5
4.6
4.7
65 and over (rate)
1.1
1.5
1.5
1.5
1.5
1.6
1.7
1.6
Median age of husband
At marriage (years)
24.2
25.8
26.5
26.7
26.9
27.1
27.3
27.6
At separation (years)
34.8
36.9
38.4
38.9
39.2
39.5
39.9
40.3
At divorce (years)
37.5
40.2
41.8
42.2
42.6
43.0
43.5
43.9

WIFE

Age-specific divorce rates(d)
Age group (years)
24 and under (rate)
3.3
1.9
1.3
1.2
1.1
1.0
0.9
0.9
25-29 (rate)
12.5
12.2
10.0
8.9
8.5
8.0
7.3
7.1
30-34 (rate)
12.6
14.4
14.4
13.7
13.1
12.4
11.8
11.1
35-39 (rate)
11.4
13.5
13.9
13.6
13.1
12.9
12.8
12.1
40-44 (rate)
10.0
12.3
12.8
12.7
12.3
12.1
12.0
11.9
45-49 (rate)
7.9
9.9
10.6
10.4
10.5
10.4
10.3
10.3
50-54 (rate)
4.9
7.0
7.4
7.3
7.3
7.5
7.7
7.6
55-59 (rate)
2.8
3.9
4.7
4.6
4.7
4.7
4.9
4.9
60-64 (rate)
1.5
2.4
2.5
2.6
2.8
2.9
2.9
2.9
65 and over (rate)
0.4
0.6
0.6
0.6
0.6
0.6
0.6
0.6
Median age of wife
At marriage (years)
21.6
23.2
24.0
24.2
24.4
24.6
24.8
25.1
At separation (years)
31.9
34.1
35.7
36.2
36.4
36.8
37.1
37.5
At divorce (years)
34.7
37.4
39.1
39.5
39.9
40.3
40.8
41.1

na not available
(a) Per 1,000 estimated resident population.
(b) Unmarried children of the marriage, aged under 18 years, see Glossary.
(c) Excludes divorces where country of birth of one or both partners is not stated. Country of birth not available for 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 - 2006

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

Divorces granted (no.)
14,482
12,110
12,175
3,913
5,544
1,233
426
1,491
51,375
Median duration of marriage
To separation (years)
7.7
8.8
9.3
10.2
9.6
10.1
7.9
9.6
8.9
To divorce (years)
11.2
12.5
13
13.8
13.7
13.5
11.5
13.6
12.5
Divorces involving children(b)
Divorces (no.)
6,802
6,036
6,382
2,076
2,786
659
214
778
25,733
Proportion of all divorces (%)
47.0
49.8
52.4
53.1
50.3
53.4
50.2
52.2
50.1
Number of children (no.)
12,514
11,387
12,180
3,915
5,248
1,262
392
1,498
48,396
Average number of children per divorce (no.)
1.84
1.89
1.91
1.89
1.88
1.92
1.83
1.93
1.88
Applicant
Husband (no.)
4,396
3,718
3,577
1,181
1,388
362
122
427
15,171
Wife (no.)
5,683
4,962
5,020
1,733
1,901
591
145
538
20,574
Joint (no.)
4,393
3,420
3,566
996
2,243
280
159
525
15,582
Median age of husband
At marriage (years)
28.0
27.3
27.5
27.1
27.8
27.2
27.3
27.3
27.6
At separation (years)
39.8
39.9
40.8
40.9
40.9
40.8
38.7
40.6
40.3
At divorce (years)
43.2
43.5
44.5
44.6
44.7
44.4
42.9
44.1
43.9
Median age of wife
At marriage (years)
25.3
25.0
25.0
24.7
25.2
24.6
25.7
25.4
25.1
At separation (years)
36.7
37.3
37.8
38.1
38.2
38.1
35.5
38.1
37.5
At divorce (years)
40.3
40.8
41.6
41.7
42.2
41.7
39.9
41.7
41.1

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


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