Latest release

Marriages and Divorces, Australia

National and state statistics on marriages and divorces, including same-sex couples, presented by age, duration and rates

Reference period
2020

Key statistics

  • In 2020, 78,989 marriages were registered in Australia, a 30.6% decrease from 2019.
  • 30.6% is the largest annual marriages decrease ever reported by the ABS.
  • 10 October was the most common wedding day with 2,191 marriages.
  • The divorce rate remained at 1.9 divorces per 1,000 people in 2020.

 

Marriages

Number of marriages

  • There were 78,989 marriages registered in Australia in 2020 compared with 113,815 in 2019. This was a decrease of 30.6%.
  • Restrictions put in place during the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic including social distancing requirements, size limits on gatherings (including weddings) and travel restrictions had a direct impact on marriages in 2020.
  • The decrease of 30.6% from 2019 to 2020 is the largest annual decrease in marriages ever reported by the ABS (since 1901)
  • Annual marriage registrations are the lowest reported since 1961 (76,686).
  • While the number of people marrying in 2020 was lower, characteristics such as median age at marriage and the proportion of civil versus religious ceremonies remained comparable with previous years.
  1. There are a range of administrative factors that affect the timeliness of marriages being registered in a given year. See 'Considerations when interpreting data' in Methodology.
  2. Care should be taken when interpreting 2004 data. In 2004 marriage registrations were sampled for NSW, Vic, Qld and SA, while the other states were fully enumerated. Sampled forms were subject to full processing. For an explanation and calculation of the sampling error see the Technical Note in Marriages, Australia, 2004.
  3. In 2012 and 2013, the Victorian marriage data contributing to totals were compiled using a sampling method. Caution is advised when interpreting marriages data for 2012 and 2013, as this includes estimates for Victoria.

Crude marriage rate

Rates enable comparisons over time as they account for changes in the size of the population.

  • In 2020, Australia's crude marriage rate was 3.1 marriages per 1,000 people. This compares with 4.5 marriages per 1,000 people in 2019, a rate decrease of 31.1%.
  • The marriage rate has been declining in Australia over time, reducing by 23.7% over the two decades between 2000 and 2019.
  1. Crude marriage rates reflect the number of marriages registered during the calendar year per 1,000 estimated resident population, as at 30 June for that year. See Glossary and 'Rates and rounding' in Methodology. 
  2. There are a range of administrative factors that affect the timeliness of marriages being registered in a given year. See 'Considerations when interpreting data' in Methodology.
  3. Care should be taken when interpreting 2004 data. In 2004 marriage registrations were sampled for NSW, Vic, Qld and SA, while the other states were fully enumerated. Sampled forms were subject to full processing. For an explanation and calculation of the sampling error see the Technical Note in Marriages, Australia, 2004.
  4. In 2012 and 2013, the Victorian marriage data contributing to totals were compiled using a sampling method. Caution is advised when interpreting marriages data for 2012 and 2013, as this includes estimates for Victoria. 

Time of year

The graph below shows the number of marriages that occurred each month in 2020 compared to the average over the past five years (2015-19). This provides an insight into how the pandemic impacted numbers throughout the year.

For marriages occurring in 2020:

  • Marriage numbers in January and February were in line with previous years, noting that the leap year contributed to the higher count in February, and February 29 was the fifth most popular day on which people married.
  • There was a significant decrease in marriage counts from March when compared to the five-year average. This coincides with the introduction of many COVID-19 pandemic restrictions in Australia.
  • April recorded the largest proportional decrease with 3,245 marriages compared to an average of 11,274 marriages for the same month over the previous five years.
  • The lowest number of marriages occurred in June (3,063 marriages). While the winter months traditionally have the lowest number of weddings, the proportional decrease is significant when compared with the average over the last five years (6,293).
  • Numbers of marriages remained lower than for previous years throughout the winter and spring months.
  1. There are a range of administrative factors that affect the timeliness of marriages being registered in a given year. See 'Considerations when interpreting data' in Methodology.
  2. Data for the 2015-19 average is based on the month and year in which the marriage occurred, rather than the year in which it was registered. A proportion of marriages occur in a given year but are not registered until subsequent years.
  3. Data for 2020 include marriages occurring and registered in 2020. December 2020 data has been suppressed in this graph as marriage counts are expected to increase with further processing of registrations received in 2021. 
  4. Care should be taken in interpreting 2020 occurrence data and comparing with data presented in the Marriages and Divorces, Australia publication. 
  5. 2016 and 2020 are leap years with an extra day for 29 February. In 2020, 29 February fell on a Saturday contributing to the higher number of weddings in the month.

Most common days to marry

For marriages occurring in 2020:

  • Saturday 10 October was the most common day on which to marry, with 2,191 couples tying the knot that day. Historically, 10 October has been a popular day to marry whenever it falls on a Saturday.
  • 1,517 couples chose to marry on the extra day provided by the leap year, Saturday 29 February 2020.
Top five most common days to marry in 2020 (a)
RankDateMarriages (no.)
1Saturday, 10 October 2,191
2Saturday, 22 February 1,783
3Saturday, 14 March 1,606
4Saturday, 7 March 1,539
5Saturday, 29 February 1,517
  1. The data presented in this table is based on when the marriage occurred, rather than when it was registered. A proportion of marriages occur in a given year but are not registered until subsequent years.

States and territories

Marriage statistics are presented by the state or territory in which the marriage was registered, rather than the state or territory of usual residence of the couple.

In 2020:

  • all states and territories recorded a decrease in marriages compared with 2019
  • the largest decrease of 41.9% (12,007 marriages) was in Victoria where additional restrictions were in place due to the second wave of COVID-19.
Marriages by state and territory of registration, 2018 to 2020 (a)(b)(c)
NSWVic.QldSAWATas.NTACTAust.
201840,58330,15223,6417,74112,2192,4977951,562119,188
201939,59628,63422,1527,12511,6612,3858051,461113,815
202027,60916,62715,9175,4329,5612,0135521,27578,989
Change 2019-2020 (no.)-11,987-12,007-6,235-1,693-2,100-372-253-186-34,826
Change 2019-2020 (%)-30.3-41.9-28.1-23.8-18-15.6-31.4-12.7-30.6
2020 same-sex marriages(b) (no.)9706065991683769618702,902
Proportion of 2020 marriages that were same-sex(b) (%)3.53.63.83.13.94.83.35.53.7
  1. Marriage data are based on the state or territory of registration rather than usual residence. This should be considered when interpreting or comparing state and territory data. See 'Considerations when interpreting data' in Methodology.
  2. There are a range of administrative factors that affect the timeliness of marriages being registered in a given year. See 'Considerations when interpreting data' in Methodology.
  3. Any marriages where one or both parties do not identify as either male or female are not included in same-sex marriage data. See 'Classifications' in Methodology.

Age at marriage

Demographic characteristics such as median age change little year on year so comparisons are best made over a longer period.

Since 2010, median age at marriage has increased from:

  • 31.4 to 32.2 years for males.
  • 29.2 to 30.6 years for females.
  1. There are a range of administrative factors that affect the timeliness of marriages being registered in a given year. See 'Considerations when interpreting data' in Methodology.
  2. Care should be taken when interpreting 2004 data. In 2004 marriage registrations were sampled for NSW, Vic, Qld and SA, while the other states were fully enumerated. Sampled forms were subject to full processing. For an explanation and calculation of the sampling error see the Technical Note in Marriages, Australia, 2004.
  3. In 2012 and 2013, the Victorian marriage data contributing to totals were compiled using a sampling method. Caution is advised when interpreting marriages data for 2012 and 2013, as this includes estimates for Victoria.
  4. There are a very small number of same-sex marriages included in data for 2017. Where data are presented by sex for 2017, a small number of males are included in data for females and vice versa. 
  5. Marriage data by sex exclude data for which the person did not identify as male or female.
  6. Includes those marrying for the first time, as well as those remarrying after being widowed or divorced.

In 2020:

  • nearly one-third (32.2%) of females who married did so between the ages of 25 and 29, and a further 23.8% married between the ages of 30 and 34.
  • over one-quarter (27.7%) of males who married were aged between 25 and 29, and a further quarter (25.9%) married between the ages of 30 and 34. 
  1. The minimum age at which a person can legally marry in Australia is 16 years. See 'Marriages and divorces legislation' in Methodology. 
  2. Marriage data by sex exclude data for which the person did not identify as male or female. 

Same-sex marriages

In 2020:

  • there were 2,902 same-sex marriages a decrease of 2,605 (47.3%) compared with 2019. Same-sex marriages represented 3.7% of all marriages registered in Australia in 2020. 
  • nationally, more female same-sex couples married (61.4% of all same-sex marriages) than male same-sex couples (38.5%). This was the case across all states and territories.
  • for couples in same-sex marriages the median age for males was 37.2 years, and for females it was 35.3 years. Median age for both males and females in same-sex marriages has decreased since 2018.
Same-sex marriages, 2018-2020 (a)(b)
201820192020
Male same-sex marriages (no.) 2,757 2,262 1,117
Female same-sex marriages (no.) 3,781 3,243 1,782
Total same-sex marriages (no.) 6,538 5,507 2,902
Total marriages (no.) 119,188 113,815 78,989
Proportion of marriages that were same-sex (%)5.54.83.7
First marriage both partners (no.) 4,809 4,201 2,172
Civil celebrants (%)98.997.197.5
Male median age (years)44.939.337.2
Female median age (years)39.336.535.3
  1. There are a range of administrative factors that affect the timeliness of marriages being registered in a given year. See 'Considerations when interpreting data' in Methodology.
  2. Any marriages where one or both parties do not identify as either male or female are not included in same-sex marriage data. See 'Classifications' in Methodology.

Registered relationships

Most state and territory Registries of Births, Deaths and Marriages provide couples an alternative to marriage in the form of a relationship register. Registers are available to adults who are in a relationship as a couple, regardless of sex.

Registered relationships are not included in marriage statistics. Each state and territory Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages that has a relationship register provides counts of registered relationships to the ABS. These counts provide a more holistic picture of how relationships are legalised. Currently Western Australia and the Northern Territory are the only jurisdictions without a register. 

  • There were 19,055 relationships registered in 2020, a small decrease compared to the 19,870 reported in 2019.
  • Registered relationships did not appear to be impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
  1. Jurisdictions with a relationship register include New South Wales, Victoria, Queensland, South Australia, Tasmania and the Australian Capital Territory. South Australia introduced their relationship register in August 2017 and therefore numbers for this state are only included from 2018.

Divorces

Number and rate of divorces

In 2020:

  • 49,510 divorces were granted in Australia, an increase of 1.9% from 2019 (48,582).
  • the crude divorce rate remained the same as 2019 at 1.9 divorces per 1,000 people.
  • the divorce rate has decreased to 1.9 from 2.6 divorces granted per 1,000 people in 2000.

Divorces are generally only granted after a period of 12 months or more of separation. As such, any breakdown of marriages during the COVID-19 pandemic, may not be reflected in changes to the divorce rate for some years.

  1. 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 Methodology.
  2. Divorces data for 2018 and 2019 may differ to numbers previously published. See 'Considerations when interpreting data' in Methodology for more information.

Median age

The median age at divorce has increased over time in line with an increase in the median age at marriage.

In 2020 the median age at divorce was:

  • 45.6 years for males (compared with 41.4 years in 2000)
  • 42.8 years for females (compared with 38.6 years in 2000).
Median age at marriage, separation and divorce, Males, 2000, 2010 and 2020 (a)(b)
200020102020
At marriage26.428.129.4
At separation38.140.841.7
At divorce41.444.445.6
  1. Median age at marriage only relates to those who had a divorce granted in the calendar year.
  2. Data for 2020 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 a small number of females. Due to the small numbers involved, there is minimal impact on output.
Median age at marriage, separation and divorce, Females, 2000, 2010 and 2020 (a)(b)
200020102020
At marriage23.825.627.2
At separation35.338.139.1
At divorce38.641.542.8
  1. Median age at marriage only relates to those who had a divorce granted in the calendar year.
  2. Data for 2020 includes same-sex divorces which could not be identified separately when calculating median age by sex. As a result, the median age for females contains age information for a small number of males. Due to the small numbers involved, there is minimal impact on output.

 

Age-specific divorce rates

In 2020:

  • For males, the highest divorce rate was for those in the 45-49 year age group, with 9.4 divorces per 1,000 males.
  • For females, those aged 40-44 years had the highest divorce rate, with 9.4 divorces per 1,000 females. 
  • In the younger age groups (those under 45 years) the divorce rate was higher for females. 
  • In the older age groups (those aged 45 years or more) the divorce rate was higher for males. 

 

  1. 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 Methodology. 
  2. 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 a very small number of females, and vice versa. Due to the small numbers involved, there is minimal impact on output.

Duration of marriage for couples who divorce

Median duration of marriage to separation and divorce has remained relatively stable over time.

The median duration of marriage:

  • to separation was 8.4 years in 2020, compared with 8.2 years in 2000
  • to divorce was 12.1 years in 2020, compared with 11.6 years in 2000. 
  1. Divorces data for 2018 and 2019 may differ to numbers previously published. See 'Considerations when interpreting data' in Methodology for more information.

Data downloads

Marriages (Australia)

Marriages (states and territories)

Divorces

All data cubes

Previous catalogue number

This release previously used catalogue number 3310.0