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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Divorces

Number and rate of divorces

There were 49,404 divorces granted in Australia in 2018. The crude divorce rate has decreased over time from 2.7 divorces per 1,000 people in 1998 to 2.0 divorces per 1,000 people in 2018.

Crude divorce rate, 1998-2018
Graph: Crude divorce rate, 1998-2018
Footnote:
(a) Crude divorce rates reflect the number of divorces granted during the calendar year per 1,000 estimated resident population as at 30 June for that year. See Glossary and 'Rates and rounding' in Explanatory Notes for further information.

Same-sex divorces

Following amendments to the Marriage Act 1961 in late 2017, same-sex couples can now access the Australian divorce system. Due to the length of time required to legally divorce, the same-sex couples divorcing in Australia in 2018 are unlikely to have been married under the current Australian marriage law.

Divorce statistics are provided by the Family Court of Australia (FCA). Same-sex divorces are not separately identified in data provided to the ABS; however the FCA have provided ABS with a total same-sex divorce count.

In 2018, there were 72 divorces of same-sex couples, representing around 0.1% of all divorces. Of these, 22 were of male same-sex couples, and 50 were of female same-sex couples. These same-sex divorces are included in the counts of all divorces presented in the data tables.

Median age at marriage, separation and divorce

For those marriages that end in divorce, the median age at marriage has increased over time, and so too has the age at separation and divorce. The median age at divorce is now:

  • 45.9 years of age for males (compared to 40.5 years in 1998); and
  • 43.2 years of age for females (compared to 37.8 in 1998).

Median age at marriage, separation and divorce, 1998, 2008 and 2018

Age group (years)
1998
2008
2018

Median age of males

At marriage
26.0
27.8
29.3
At separation
37.2
40.5
42.0
At divorce
40.5
44.1
45.9

Median age of females

At marriage
23.5
25.4
26.9
At separation
34.5
37.8
39.3
At divorce
37.8
41.4
43.2

Footnote:
(a) Data for 2018 includes same-sex divorces which could not be identified separately when calculating median age by sex. As a result, the median age for males contains age information for 50 females, and the median age for females contains age information for 22 males. Due to the small numbers involved, there is minimal impact on output.

Age-specific divorce rates
  • For males, the highest divorce rate was for those in the 45-49 year age group, with 9.6 divorces per 1,000 population.
  • For females, those aged 40-44 years had the highest divorce rate, with 9.4 divorces per 1,000 population.
  • In the younger age groups (those under 45 years), the crude divorce rate was higher for females.
  • In the older age groups (those aged 45 years or more), the crude divorce rate was higher for males.
  • The greatest rate difference between the sexes was amongst those aged 25-29 years - for males there were 2.8 divorces per 1,000 population in this age group, compared to 4.4 divorces per 1,000 population for females.

Age-specific divorce rates by sex, 2018
Graph: Age-specific divorce rates by sex, 2018
Footnotes:
(a) Age-specific divorce rates reflect the number of males or females in a specific age group who were granted a divorce during the year, per 1,000 estimated resident population of males or females in the same age group, at 30 June for that year. There are a small number of persons aged under 16 years included in divorces data, who were legally married overseas. These persons are included in the 16-24 year age group when calculating rates. See 'Rates and rounding' in the Explanatory Notes for further information.
(b) For 2018, same-sex couples could not be identified separately when calculating age-specific divorce rates by sex. The rates for males presented in this graph include age information for 50 females, and the rates for females include age information for 22 males. Due to the small numbers involved, there is minimal impact on output.

Duration of marriage of divorcing couples

The median duration of marriage to divorce was 12.3 years in 2018. This was 1.1 years longer than the median duration of marriage for divorcing couples 20 years ago (11.2 years). The median duration of marriage to separation was 8.6 years in 2018 compared to 7.8 years in 1998.

Median duration to separation and divorce, 1998-2018
Graph: Median duration to separation and divorce, 1998-2018

The increase in duration of marriage for divorces in 2018 compared with those in 1998 was driven by a proportional decrease in marriages of a short duration (1-4 years) and proportional increase in marriages of a long duration (30 years or more). In 1998, 18.9% of marriages that ended in divorce ended before the fifth year, compared to 15.1% in 2018, while 10.0% of marriages lasted for 30 years or more in 2018 compared to 6.1% in 1998.

Proportion of divorces by duration of marriage, 1998 and 2018
Graph: Proportion of divorces by duration of marriage, 1998 and 2018
Footnote:
(a) See 'Considerations when interpreting 2018 and time-series data' in the Explanatory Notes for further information.