3307.0.55.001 - Divorces, Australia, 2003  
ARCHIVED ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 22/02/2005   
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Age-specific divorce rates

Because of the different purposes to which they are put, two different populations may be used in the calculation of age-specific divorce rates:

  • Per 1,000 population - this relates the number of divorces recorded in the calendar year, by age at divorce, to the estimated resident population of the same age at 30 June. Males under 18 years and females under 16 years are excluded from the population.
  • Per 1,000 married population - this relates the number of divorces recorded in a calendar year, by age at decree made absolute, to the married population of the same age at 30 June. Those classified as permanently separated are included in the married population. Males and females under 15 years are excluded from the population.

Wherever used, the definition adopted is indicated.


Person applying for divorce. Applications for divorce may be made by the husband or wife individually, or as a joint application.


Children in the divorce collection are unmarried children of the marriage who were aged under 18 years at the time of application for divorce. Under the Family Law Act 1975 (Cwlth) these may include (in certain cases) adopted and exnuptial children and children from a former marriage. Children who are married or aged 18 years or more are not subject to custody and guardianship orders and are excluded.

Crude divorce rate

The crude divorce rate is the number of decrees absolute granted during the calendar year per 1,000 estimated resident population at 30 June. For years prior to 1992, the crude divorce rate was based on the mean estimated resident population for the calendar year. In the interpretation of this rate, it must be kept in mind that a large and varying proportion of the population used in the denominator is unmarried or is below the minimum age of marriage.

Date of application

Date at which application for divorce was made.

Date of divorce

Date at which decree absolute of dissolution of marriage is granted.

Date of separation

The date of final separation is the date, given on the application for divorce, from which the period of living apart is calculated for the purpose of establishing grounds for a divorce. In determining the date of final separation, a single period of resumed cohabitation of less than three months may be ignored, provided the periods of living apart before and after resumed cohabitation amount to a total of 12 months or more.

Duration of marriage to divorce

Duration of marriage is the interval measured in completed years between the date of marriage and the date of divorce.

Duration of marriage to separation

Duration of marriage until separation is the interval measured in completed years between the date of marriage and the date of separation.

Estimated resident population (ERP)

The official measure of the population of Australia is based on the concept of residence. It refers to all people, regardless of nationality or citizenship, who usually live in Australia, with the exception of foreign diplomatic personnel and their families. It includes usual residents who are overseas for less than 12 months. It excludes overseas visitors who are in Australia for less than 12 months.

Marital status

Two separate concepts of marital status are measured by the Australian Bureau of Statistics. These are registered marital status and social marital status. Registered marital status refers to formally registered marriages and divorces. Registered marital status is a person's relationship status in terms of whether he or she has, or has had, a registered marriage with another person. Accordingly, people are classified as either 'never married', 'married', widowed' or 'divorced. Social marital status is the relationship status of an individual with reference to another person who is usually resident in the household. A marriage exists when two people live together as husband and wife, or partners, regardless of whether the marriage is formalised through registration. Individuals are, therefore, regarded as married if they are in a de facto marriage, or if they are living with the person to whom they are registered as married. Under social marital status, a person is classified as either 'married' or 'not married' with further disaggregation of 'married' to distinguish 'registered married' from 'de facto married' person.

Median value

For any distribution, the median value (age, duration, interval) is that value which divides the relevant population into two equal parts, half falling below the value and half exceeding it. Where the value for a particular record has not been stated, that record is excluded from the calculation.

State and territory data

State and territory divorce data are tabulated based on the state or territory in which the divorce was granted. See paragraphs 13 to 15 of the Explanatory Notes for more detail.