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Marriages and Divorces, Australia

This release provides information on marriage and divorce statistics, as well as the analysis of family formation and dissolution in Australia

Reference period
2018

Key statistics

Marriages

In 2018:

  • there were 119,188 marriages in Australia, up 6,234 (5.5%) compared to 2017;
  • the median age at marriage was 32.4 years for males and 30.5 years for females;
  • 79.7% of males and 81.0% of females married for the first time; and
  • four out of five (79.7%) marriages were performed by a civil celebrant.


Following changes to the Marriage Act 1961 on 9 December 2017, 2018 represents the first full year in which same-sex couples could legally marry.

Key statistics on same-sex marriages include:

  • 6,538 marriages were of same-sex couples, representing 5.5% of all marriages;
  • female same-sex marriages represented more than half (57.8%) of same-sex marriages; and
  • the median age at marriage was 39.3 years for females and 44.9 years for males.
     

Divorces

In 2018:

  • there were 49,404 divorces granted in Australia, similar to 2017 (49,032 divorces);
  • the median age at divorce was 45.9 years of age for males and 43.2 for females;
  • for those divorcing, the median duration of marriage was 12.3 years; and
  • 47.3% of divorces involved children.

Marriages

Number of marriages

There were 119,188 registered marriages in Australia in 2018, an increase of 6,234 (5.5%) compared to 2017 (112,954). This number includes 6,538 same-sex marriages, representing 5.5% of all marriages.

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  1. There are a range of administrative factors that affect the timeliness of marriages being registered in a given year. See 'Considerations when interpreting 2018 and time-series data' in the methodology for further information.
  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 (cat. no. 3306.0.55.001).
  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. Marriages data is confidentialised in this publication. See the 'Confidentiality' section of the methodology for further details.
     

Crude marriage rate

In 2018, Australia's crude marriage rate was 4.8 marriages per 1,000 estimated resident population. The crude rate has decreased over time, from:

  • 5.5 marriages per 1,000 persons in 2008; and
  • 5.9 marriages per 1,000 persons in 1998.
     
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  1. Crude marriage rates reflect the number of marriages registered during the year per 1,000 estimated resident population, as at 30 June for that year. See Glossary and 'Rates and rounding' in the methodology for further information.
  2. There are a range of administrative factors that affect the timeliness of marriages being registered in a given year. See 'Considerations when interpreting 2018 and time-series data' in the methodology for further information.
  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 (cat. no. 3306.0.55.001).
  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.
     

Median age at marriage

The median age at marriage in 2018 was 32.4 years of age for males and 30.5 for females. This includes those marrying for the first time, as well as those who were remarrying as a result of being widowed or divorced.

The median age at marriage increased by 0.4 years for both sexes compared with 2017, largely driven by the older age at marriage for those in same-sex marriages (44.9 years for males and 39.3 for females).

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  1. The minimum age at which a person can legally marry in Australia is 16 years. See 'Marriages and divorces legislation' in the methodology for further details.
  2. There are a range of administrative factors that affect the timeliness of marriages being registered in a given year. See 'Considerations when interpreting 2018 and time-series data' in the methodology for further information.
  3. 2018 is the first full year for which same-sex marriage data are available. 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.
  4. Marriage data by sex exclude data for which the person did not identify as male or female.
  5. 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 (cat. no. 3306.0.55.001).
  6. 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.
     

Age groups

In 2018:

  • nearly one-third (33.1%) of females who married did so between the ages of 25 and 29; and
  • over one-quarter (27.8%) of males who married were aged between 25 and 29, and a further quarter (25.3%) married between the ages of 30 and 34.
     
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  1. The minimum age at which a person can legally marry in Australia is 16 years. See 'Marriages and divorces legislation' in the methodology for further details.
  2. Marriage data by sex exclude data for which the person did not identify as male or female.
  3. Perturbation has been applied to marriages data in this publication. Due to perturbation, component cells may not add to published totals. See the 'Confidentiality' section of the methodology for further details.
  4. 2018 is the first full year for which same-sex marriage data are available. 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. See 'Considerations when interpreting 2018 and time-series data' in the methodology for further information.
     

Most popular time of year to marry

Analysis of marriages data based on the date the marriage occurred (rather than the date on which it was registered) shows that:

  • March was the most popular month in which to marry (11.8% of couples married in March);
  • Spring was the most popular season in which to marry, with 31.8% of couples marrying between September and November; and
  • Saturday the 20th of October was the most popular day on which to marry, with 1,993 couples tying the knot that day.
     
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  1. The data presented in this graph are based on the 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. Care should be taken in interpreting 2018 occurrence data, particularly for December, as marriage counts are expected to increase with further processing.
  2. Perturbation has been applied to marriages data in this publication. Due to perturbation, component cells may not add to published totals. See the 'Confidentiality' section of the methodology for further details.
  3. See 'Considerations when interpreting 2018 and time-series data' in the methodology for further information.
     

Popularity of marriage month varies by state and territory. For marriages registered in 2018 which also occurred in 2018:

  • March was the most popular month in which to marry for couples in New South Wales, Victoria, Western Australia, Tasmania and the Australian Capital Territory;
  • July was the most popular month to wed in the Northern Territory;
  • September was most popular for Queensland weddings; and
  • October was the most popular month in which to marry in South Australia.
     

State and territory data

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 2018:

  • all states and territories recorded an increase in marriages compared with 2017, with the exception of the Australian Capital Territory;
  • New South Wales recorded the largest increase in marriages, up 3,751 (10.2%);
  • Tasmania had the greatest percentage increase in marriages, up 11.5% (257 marriages); and
  • same-sex marriages contributed to increased numbers, comprising between 4.9% and 8.3% of marriages in each state and territory.

Marriages, state and territory of registration, 2017 and 2018

  NSWVic.QldSAWATas.NTACT(d)Aust. 
2017no.
36,832
30,129
22,341
7,265
11,707
2,240
769
1,674
112,954
 
2018no.
40,583
30,152
23,641
7,741
12,219
2,497
795
1,562
119,188
 
Change, 2017-18no.
3,751
23
1,300
476
512
257
26
-112
6,234
 
Change, 2017-18%
10.2
0.1
5.8
6.6
4.4
11.5
3.4
-6.7
5.5
 
2018 same-sex marriagesno.
2,290
1,655
1,292
387
600
143
47
130
6,538
 
Proportion of 2018 marriages that were same-sex(b)%
5.6
5.5
5.5
5.0
4.9
5.7
5.9
8.3
5.5
 
a. Marriage data are based on the state or territory of registration rather than state or territory of usual residence of the couple. See 'Marriages' in the 'Considerations when interpreting 2018 and time-series data' section of the Methodology page for further information.
b. Same-sex marriage data exclude marriages registered for which one or both parties of the marriage did not identify as male or female. See 'Sex' in the 'Classifications' section of the Methodology page.
c. Perturbation has been applied to marriages data in this publication. Due to perturbation, component cells may not add to published totals. See the 'Confidentiality' section of the Methodology page for further details.
d. The number of registered marriages in the ACT in 2017 was inflated by larger than usual numbers of lagged registrations from previous years.
 

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.

A relationship register provides legal proof of a relationship, which may be helpful for:

  • tax purposes;
  • superannuation and government payments;
  • providing next-of-kin status to funeral directors; and
  • medical emergencies.
     

Registered relationships are not included in marriage statistics. However, 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, the Northern Territory and the Australian Capital Territory (where the register was withdrawn following the legalisation of same-sex marriage) are the only jurisdictions without a register.

Registered relationships as a proportion of all legal relationships (in those states and territories with a relationship register) has increased over time, from 7.5% in 2014 to 13.6% in 2018.

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  1. Data in this table reflect the number of registered relationships as a proportion of all legal relationships (that is, the sum of registered relationships and registered marriages).
  2. Data for Victoria for 2014 to 2017 have been estimated based on data provided by financial year.
  3. Data for 'Australia' for 2018 include South Australia (for which 2018 is the only full calendar year for which registered relationship data are available), and exclude the Australian Capital Territory, which no longer has a relationship register.

Same-sex marriages

Amendments to the Marriage Act 1961 came in to effect on 9 December 2017, enabling same-sex couples to legally marry in Australia. 2018 is the first full year for which same-sex marriage data are available. In 2018, there were 6,538 same-sex marriages registered in Australia, accounting for 5.5% of all marriages.

More than one-third of same-sex marriages were registered in New South Wales (35.0%, or 2,290 marriages). These same-sex marriages represented 5.6% of all marriages in NSW. The Australian Capital Territory had the highest proportion of marriages that were same sex at 8.3%.

Same-sex marriages, states and territories, 2018

  NSWVic.QldSAWATas.NTACTAust.
Total same-sex marriages(a)
no.
2,290
1,655
1,292
387
600
143
47
130
6,538
Male same-sex marriages(a)
no.
1,061
733
497
144
204
44
18
52
2,757
Female same-sex marriages(a)
no.
1,229
915
796
242
397
93
28
78
3,781
Total marriages
no.
40,583
30,152
23,641
7,741
12,219
2,497
795
1,562
119,188
Proportion of marriages that were same-sex(a)
%
5.6
5.5
5.5
5.0
4.9
5.7
5.9
8.3
5.5
a. Same-sex marriage data exclude marriages registered for which one or both parties of the marriage did not identify as male or female. See 'Sex' in the 'Classifications' section of the Methodology page.
b. Marriage data are based on the state or territory of registration rather than state or territory of usual residence of the couple. See 'Marriages' in the 'Considerations when interpreting 2018 and time-series data' section of the Methodology page for further information.
c. Perturbation has been applied to marriages data in this publication. Due to perturbation, component cells may not add to published totals. See the 'Confidentiality' section of the Methodology page for further details.
 

Sex of couple

Nationally, 57.8% of same-sex marriages were of female couples and 42.2% were of male couples. Female couples accounted for the majority of same-sex marriages in all states and territories.

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  1. Marriage data are based on the state or territory of registration rather than state or territory of usual residence of the couple. See 'Marriages' in the 'Considerations when interpreting 2018 and time-series data' section of the methodology for further information.
  2. Same-sex marriage data exclude marriages registered for which one or both parties of the marriage did not identify as male or female.
  3. Perturbation has been applied to marriages data in this publication. Due to perturbation, component cells may not add to published totals. See the 'Confidentiality' section of the methodology for further details.
     

Celebrant type

In 2018:

  • 98.9% of same-sex marriages were administered by a civil celebrant (6,463 marriages).
  • Of those same-sex couples married by a minister of religion (79 marriages), the most common rites were those of the Uniting Church (23 marriages).
     

Previous marital status

For individuals entering into a same-sex marriage in 2018:

  • 4,940 (89.6%) males and 6,104 (80.7%) females were marrying for the first time;
  • 558 (10.1%) males and 1,428 (18.9%) females were previously divorced; and
  • the remainder (16 males and 36 females) were widowed.
     

Median age at marriage

The median age at marriage for those in same-sex marriages was substantially greater than the median age for those in opposite-sex marriages. This led to a larger than usual increase in the overall median age at marriage for males and females in 2018 (both increasing by 0.4 years compared to 2017).

  • For males, the median age of those in same-sex marriages was 44.9 years, compared to 32.1 years for those in opposite-sex marriages.
  • For females, the median age at marriage was 39.3 years for those in same-sex marriages, compared to 30.2 for females in opposite-sex marriages.
     
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  1. Same-sex marriage data exclude marriages registered for which one or both parties of the marriage did not identify as male or female.
  2. See 'Considerations when interpreting 2018 and time-series data' in the methodology for further information.
  3. The median age data presented in this graph includes those marrying for the first time, as well as those who were previously widowed or divorced.
     

Same-sex marriages by age group

The older age profile of those in same-sex marriages is reflected in the graph below:

  • Females aged 30-34 accounted for the greatest proportion of female same-sex marriages (18.2%) in 2018; and
  • Males aged 30-34 also accounted for the greatest proportion of male same-sex marriages (12.7%) closely followed by those aged 35-39 (12.6%).
     
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  1. Same-sex marriage data exclude marriages registered for which one or both parties of the marriage did not identify as male or female.
  2. Perturbation has been applied to marriages data in this publication. Due to perturbation, component cells may not add to published totals. See the 'Confidentiality' section of the methodology for further details.
  3. See 'Considerations when interpreting 2018 and time-series data' in the methodology for further information.

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.

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  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 the methodology 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)199820082018
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
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.
     
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  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 the methodology for further information.
  2. 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.

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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.

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  1. See 'Considerations when interpreting 2018 and time-series data' on the Methodology page for further information.

Data downloads

Marriages (Australia)

Marriages (states and territories)

Same-sex marriages

Divorces

Previous catalogue number

This release previously used catalogue number 3310.0