What Is The Divorce Rate In Australia?

divorce rings

Interpersonal relationships can be challenging, and the pandemic has only increased this difficulty in many cases. In Australia, spouses have had to manage working from home, home-schooling their children, and money problems due to job losses or business closures. This has created a tense atmosphere for many. Consequently, the marriage and divorce statistics have been impacted from 2020 and 2021 are different from what we have seen in the past.

What is a Divorce under the Law?

A divorce, also known as a dissolution of marriage, is a legal process by which a marriage is ended. The legal duties and responsibilities of the parties to the marriage are terminated. In Australia, a divorce can be granted by a court if the parties have been separated for at least 12 months and there is no reasonable likelihood of reconciliation.


To obtain a divorce, one of the parties must file a divorce application with the Federal Circuit Court of Australia. This should include evidence that the parties have been separated for at least 12 months. The other party may then file a response to the application. If the court is satisfied that the requirements for a divorce have been met, it may grant a divorce order. This takes effect one month and one day after the order is made.


A divorce order can address a number of issues, including property division, spousal maintenance, and arrangements for any children of the marriage. However, a divorce does not automatically resolve these issues, and parties may need to seek further legal advice from divorce lawyers in Sydney to address these issue.

Australian Marriage Statistics

According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, there were 113,815 marriages registered in Australia in 2019. This represented a decrease of 6.5% from the previous year, and a continuation of the declining trend seen over the past decade.


The median age at marriage in Australia in 2019 was 32.4 years for men and 30.5 years for women. This represented an increase from the median age at marriage in 2009, which was 30.0 years for men and 28.2 years for women.


In terms of the number of marriages by state and territory, New South Wales had the highest number of marriages in 2019, with 38,840 marriages registered. Victoria was the second highest with 29,234 marriages, followed by Queensland with 21,504 marriages.


There were 687 marriages registered in the Australian Capital Territory (ACT) in 2020. This represents a decrease of 31.6% from the previous year, which may in part be due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on wedding ceremonies and celebrations.


In terms of the characteristics of these marriages, the median age of males at marriage in the ACT in 2020 was 35.7 years, while the median age of females at marriage was 33.8 years. The median age at first marriage was slightly younger, with males having a median age of 32.5 years and females having a median age of 30.7 years.


Average Marriage Length in Australia


The latest available data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics, the median duration of marriage at divorce in Australia in 2019 was 12.3 years. This means that half of all divorces involved marriages that lasted less than 12.3 years, while the other half involved marriages that lasted longer than 12.3 years.


It’s worth noting, however, that this figure represents the duration of marriages at the time of divorce, and may not be an accurate reflection of the average length of marriages overall. The duration of marriages can vary widely, and some marriages may last only a few years while others may last several decades.


According to the same ABS data, the proportion of divorces involving marriages that had lasted less than 5 years was 18.5%, while the proportion of divorces involving marriages that had lasted 20 years or more was 24.5%. These figures suggest that while there is a relatively high proportion of shorter marriages that end in divorce, there are also a significant number of longer marriages that end in divorce.

What is the Divorce Rate in Australia?

According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, the divorce rate in Australia in 2019 was 2.2 divorces per 1,000 people. This represented a decrease from the divorce rate of 2.4 per 1,000 people in 2018, and a continuation of the declining trend seen over the past decade.


In terms of the number of divorces, there were 49,116 divorces granted in Australia in 2019. This represented a decrease of 4.5% from the previous year.


The median duration of marriage at divorce in Australia in 2019 was 12.3 years. This represented a slight increase from the median duration of marriage at divorce in 2009, which was 11.5 years.

Factors That Play A Role In An Increase In Divorce Rate In Australia

There are a number of factors that can play a role in an increase in the divorce rate in Australia. Some of the key factors that have been identified include as follows:


Changes in Social Attitudes towards Marriage and Divorce


Over time, social attitudes towards marriage and divorce have changed. There is greater acceptance of divorce as a legitimate option for couples who are experiencing problems in their relationships. This has lead to an increase in the number of divorces as couples who may have stayed in unhappy marriages in the past now feel more comfortable ending their marriages.


Economic Conditions


Economic conditions can also have an impact on divorce rates, with periods of economic hardship often associated with increases in the divorce rate. Financial stress can put a strain on relationships and make it more difficult for couples to work through their problems.


Changes In Family Dynamics


Changes in family dynamics, such as the increasing participation of women in the workforce, can also play a role in divorce rates. As women become more financially independent and have greater opportunities outside of the home, they may be more likely to end marriages that are not meeting their needs.




Infidelity is a common reason for divorce, and increased rates of infidelity can contribute to an increase in the divorce rate.


Communication Issues


Communication breakdowns can also contribute to divorce, with couples who are unable to effectively communicate and resolve their differences more likely to end their marriages.


Finally, these factors can interact in complex ways, and the causes of divorce can be difficult to pinpoint in any individual case.

Things You Can Do to Avoid A Divorce

While every marriage is unique and there is no guaranteed formula for avoiding divorce, there are some steps that couples can take to strengthen their relationship and reduce the likelihood of divorce. Here are a few things you can do to avoid a divorce.


Prioritise Communication


Good communication is key to a healthy marriage. Make an effort to listen to your partner, express your feelings openly and honestly, and work together to resolve conflicts.


Practice Empathy and Understanding


Try to put yourself in your partner’s shoes and understand their perspective, even when you disagree. This can help to build empathy and strengthen your bond.


Make Time for Each Other


In the busyness of daily life, it can be easy for couples to lose touch. Make a conscious effort to spend quality time together, whether it’s through date nights, shared hobbies, or simply spending time talking and connecting.


Be Open to Compromise


In any relationship, there will be disagreements and conflicts. Being open to compromise and finding solutions that work for both partners can help to prevent conflicts from escalating and damaging the relationship.


Seek Help When Needed


If you’re struggling in your marriage, don’t be afraid to seek help from a professional marriage counsellor or therapist. They can provide guidance and support as you work through challenges and strengthen your relationship.


Ultimately, the key to avoiding divorce is to prioritise your relationship, communicate openly and honestly, and work together to overcome challenges as a team.

COVID-19 Pandemic Impact on Married Couples

The COVID-19 pandemic has had a significant impact on many aspects of life in Australia, including relationships and family dynamics. While the full impact of the pandemic on divorce rates in Australia is not yet known, there have been some indications that the pandemic has led to an increase in the number of divorces.


According to data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics, there was a 4.5% decrease in the number of divorces granted in Australia in 2019 compared to the previous year. However, it is expected that the pandemic and associated lockdowns and stressors may have led to an increase in the number of divorces in 2020 and 2021.


Reports from most family law practitioners suggest that the pandemic has led to an increase in the number of couples seeking to separate or divorce. Factors such as financial stress, increased time spent together due to lockdowns, and changes in family dynamics contributing to the strain on relationships. In addition, the pandemic has made it more difficult for some couples to access support and services to help them work through relationship issues.


The full impact of the pandemic on divorce rates in Australia may not be known for some time, as the processing of divorce applications can take several months and may not be reflected in official statistics immediately.

Divorce Rate in Australia vs Divorce Rate Around The World

Divorce rates vary widely around the world and can be influenced by a variety of factors. These factors include cultural attitudes towards marriage and divorce, economic conditions, and legal frameworks for divorce. Divorce rates can be difficult to compare across countries due to differences in data collection methods and definitions of divorce.


According to the latest available data from the United Nations, the crude divorce rate in Australia in 2019 (2.2 divorces per 1,000 people) was lower than the average crude divorce rate for high-income countries (2.5 divorces per 1,000 people) and similar to the rate for other English-speaking countries such as the United Kingdom (2.8 divorces per 1,000 people) and Canada (2.6 divorces per 1,000 people).


In contrast, some countries have much higher divorce rates. For example, according to the same United Nations data, the crude divorce rate in the United States was 3.2 divorces per 1,000 people in 2019, while the rate in Russia was 4.4 divorces per 1,000 people. However, comparing divorce rates across countries can be complex and may not provide a full picture of the factors influencing divorce in each country.


At Lyons Law Group, our family law experts are aware of how challenging the decision to divorce may be, particularly when children are involved. If you have any questions about getting a divorce, dividing assets, or deciding on child custody, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us for assistance.

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