3310.0 - Marriages and Divorces, Australia, 2018 Quality Declaration 
Latest ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 27/11/2019   
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Institutional environment


For information on the institutional environment of the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS), including the legislative obligations of the ABS, financing and governance arrangements, and mechanisms for scrutiny of ABS operations, please see ABS Institutional Environment.

Marriage statistics presented in this publication are sourced from marriage registration systems administered by the various state and territory Registrars of Births, Deaths and Marriages. It is a legal requirement of each state and territory that all marriages are registered.

Divorce statistics presented in this publication are provided by the Family Court of Australia (FCA). The FCA was created by the Family Law Act 1975. Under the this Act, the irretrievable breakdown of marriage is the only ground on which a divorce is granted. This ground is established by the couple having lived apart for 12 months or more, and there being no reasonable likelihood of reconciliation. Applications for nullity of a marriage under Family Law legislation must be on the grounds that the marriage is void because of failure to meet a legal requirement such as that neither party be already lawfully married to another person. There is no provision for judicial separation under Family Law legislation.

The FCA provides the ABS with combined data from each Court Registry as well as the Federal Magistrates Court, the Family Court of Western Australia and the FCA. Since 2005, the FCA has provided data to the ABS in aggregated format.
Relevance

This publication presents statistics on marriages registered and divorces granted in Australia.

For marriages, data on registered marriages are presented at the national and state/territory level by age, previous marital status, type of marriage celebrant, country of birth and relative country of birth. Crude and age-specific marriage rates are also provided.

Marriages data include:
  • Marriages registered in the calendar year and received by the ABS in the calendar year or by the end of January of the following year.
  • Marriages registered in the years prior to the calendar year but not received by the ABS until the calendar year or by the end of January of the following year, provided that these marriages have not been included in any statistics from an earlier period.
  • Marriages registered on Norfolk Island since 1 July 2016 are included in this publication. This is due to the introduction of the Norfolk Island Legislation Amendment Act 2015. Norfolk Island registered marriages are included in statistics for New South Wales and in Australian national totals. Marriages registered on Norfolk Island prior to 1 July 2016 were not in scope for Australian marriage statistics.
  • Marriages of overseas residents visiting Australia are included in these statistics.

Marriages data exclude:
  • Marriages of Australian residents that take place overseas.

Divorces data include all divorces granted (decree made absolute) in Australia. Coverage of divorce statistics in Australia is considered complete as all divorces granted are recorded legal decisions. Key indicators of national and state divorces are based on the location of the court granting divorce. The publication also presents data on divorces granted by age, length of marriage, country of birth and relative country of birth, type of applicant and whether children were involved. Crude and age-specific divorce rates are also provided.


Timeliness

Annual statistics on a year of registration basis are generally published within 11 months of the reference year in Marriages and Divorces, Australia (cat. no. 3310.0). From 2008, this product replaces the annual publications Marriages, Australia (cat. no. 3306.0.55.001) and Divorces, Australia (cat. no. 3307.0.55.001).

Marriage records are provided electronically to the ABS by individual state/territory Registrars on a monthly basis for compilation into aggregate statistics on an annual basis. One dimension of timeliness in marriage registrations data is the interval between the occurrence and registration of a marriage. Some marriages occurring in one year are not registered until the following year or later. There may also be further delays to the ABS receiving notification of the marriage from the registries due to processing or data transfer lags.

Divorce statistics presented in this publication relate to divorces granted in a calendar year. In the interpretation of data it is important to bear in mind that the availability of judges and the complexity of the cases brought before them can affect the number of decrees made absolute (or divorces granted) in any one year. A rise in numbers in one year may be due wholly or in part to the clearing of a backlog of cases from an earlier period. A small proportion of divorces are granted several years after application.


Accuracy

Non-sampling error may influence accuracy in datasets which constitute a complete census of the population, such as the Marriages and Divorces collections. Non-sample error arises from inaccuracies in collecting, recording and processing the data. The most significant of these errors are:
  • mis-reporting of data items;
  • deficiencies in coverage;
  • non-response to particular questions; and
  • processing errors.

Every effort is made to minimise error by working closely with data providers, the careful design of forms, training of processing staff, and efficient data processing and quality assurance procedures.


Coherence

Use of the supporting documentation released with the statistics is important for assessing coherence within the dataset and when comparing the statistics with data from other sources. Changing business rules over time and/or across data sources can affect consistency, and hence interpretability of statistical output, especially when assessing time series data. The Explanatory Notes contain information pertinent to the interpretation of marriages and divorces data over time.

The Notice of Intended Marriage (NOIM) form is a legal document developed by the Attorney-General's Department that collects a range of personal details of the couple as well as details regarding the wedding ceremony. The NOIM is used by all Australian states and territories.

Amendments to the Marriage Act 1961 came into effect on the 9 December 2017 enabling same-sex couples to legally marry in Australia. The right to marry under Australian law is no longer determined by sex or gender and the NOIM form has been updated to reflect these changes. The introduction of same-sex marriage should be considered when comparing data from 2018 and coming years with data for previous years.

Most state and territory Registries of Births, Deaths and Marriages provide couples an alternative to marriage where a relationship register of some kind is offered and maintained. Relationships which are recorded in these registers are not included in marriage statistics. However, the state and territory Registries of Birth, Deaths and Marriages provide the ABS with counts from these registers to provide a more holistic picture of how relationships are legalised.


Interpretability

This publication contains detailed Explanatory Notes and a Glossary that provide information on the data sources, terminology, classifications and other technical aspects associated with these statistics.

Accessibility

Marriages and divorces data are available in a variety of formats on the ABS website under the 3310.0 product family. The formats are:

  • Web contents, which contains publication commentary; and
  • data cubes (in Microsoft Excel spreadsheet format).

If the information you require is not available from the publication or the data cubes, then the ABS may also have other relevant data available on request. The ABS observes strict confidentiality protocols as required by the Census and Statistics Act 1905. This may restrict access to data at a very detailed level which is sought by some users. Enquiries should be made to the National Information and Referral Service on 1300 135 070 or by sending an email to client.services@abs.gov.au.