Breaking Down Divorce Rates in Australia: Trends and Influencing Factors

Divorce rates in Australia have long been a subject of interest and analysis. The decision to pursue a divorce is often a complex and deeply personal one, influenced by various factors within a marriage. Understanding the prevailing divorce rates in Australia can provide valuable insights into the state of marriages and relationships within the country. In this blog post, we will explore the current divorce rates in Australia and examine just some of the many factors that tend to contribute to these trends.

Divorce Rates in Australia: An Overview

Current Statistics
According to data compiled by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) in November 2022, the divorce rate in Australia has been relatively stable in recent years. In the most recent Facts & Figures released in March 2023, the crude divorce rate in 2021 ( which is divorces per 1,000 Australian residents) was 2.2 divorces. In 2020, this divorce rate was 1.9.

The actual number of divorces in Australia in 2021 was 56,244 - the highest number of divorces recorded since 1976. Queensland holds the record for the most divorces with 2.6 divorces granted per 1,000 people, followed by 2.2 in WA, and 2.1 in NSW and SA.

However, this high number (and therefore also the crude divorce rate) was affected by administrative changes that have enabled divorces to be finalised in a reduced time frame.

For this reason, the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) cautions about comparing the 2021 divorce statistics to those of earlier years.

Historical Trends
Over the past few decades, divorce rates have experienced fluctuations. While the rates increased significantly in the 1970s and 1980s, they have since levelled off and, in some instances, slightly declined.

Regional Variances
Divorce rates vary across different states and territories in Australia. It is essential to consider the specific trends and statistics for Queensland when exploring divorce rates in the state.

How Has The Duration of Marriage Changed?

The duration of marriage before divorce is an important factor to consider when examining divorce trends. According to Figure 5, a significant proportion of couples who separated and subsequently divorced had been married for nine years or less. In 2021, approximately 56% of separations and 41% of divorces fell into this category. These percentages remained relatively stable compared to 2020.

On the other hand, couples who had been married for 20 or more years accounted for over one-quarter of divorces in 2021. This is noteworthy as, in the 1980s and 1990s, this group constituted a smaller proportion, making up around one in five divorces.

This suggests that in recent years, there has been a slight increase in divorces among couples who have been married for longer durations.

What Are the Factors Influencing Divorce Rates?

1.Changing Social Attitudes

Changing social attitudes have significantly influenced divorce rates, including those related to same-sex marriages. Society's evolving acceptance of divorce as a viable option and shifting cultural norms have played a pivotal role in shaping relationship dynamics and perceptions of marriage.

The increased recognition that not all marriages are meant to last has contributed to a reduced stigma surrounding divorce. This has empowered individuals to pursue divorce when their relationship no longer meets their needs or when irreconcilable differences arise - even in those age groups where previously they may have felt compelled to stay.

With the legalisation of same-sex marriage in Australia, same-sex couples can now enter into legally recognised marriages, as well as experience the potential challenges that come with it such as divorce.

2.Economic Factors

Economic conditions, including factors such as employment stability, income levels, and financial stress, all influence divorce rates. Economic hardships or financial disagreements within a marriage can often contribute to marital breakdown.

The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated these factors, leading to increased financial hardships and disagreements within marriages. The pandemic's disruptions, such as job losses, financial uncertainty and lockdowns intensified these challenges for many couples. For others, the lockdowns and loss of life made them realise that life was too short to remain unhappy.

For those living in Australia away from their families, the isolation and inability to travel may have made them reassess priorities and separate in order to move back to their home countries.

3: Age and Marital Duration

Research suggests that age impacts marital duration.
Younger couples, particularly those who marry in their late teens or early twenties, tend to have a higher likelihood of divorcing. This may be due to factors such as limited life experience, immaturity, and a lack of developed coping mechanisms to navigate the challenges of married life.

On the other hand, couples who marry later in life, typically in their thirties or beyond, tend to have lower divorce rates. These individuals often have had more time to establish their personal identities, goals, and careers, which can contribute to stronger and more stable marriages.

Additionally, couples who have been married for a longer period tend to have lower divorce rates. The shared experiences, mutual growth, and deeper understanding developed over time can foster resilience and commitment to the relationship.

4: Education and Socioeconomic Status

Higher levels of education and socioeconomic status have been consistently linked to lower divorce rates. This association may be attributed to the advantages that education and financial stability bring to marriages, including better communication skills, shared values, and a greater ability to navigate challenges together. These factors may contribute to more stable and fulfilling marriages overall.

Divorce Rates in Australia: Need More Help?

Understanding the factors that influence divorce in Australia can provide valuable insights into the complexities of relationships, and help to remove some of the stigma associated with it. If you are facing the challenging prospect of divorce or require legal assistance in navigating family law matters, Pullos Lawyers is here to support you. With our deep understanding of Queensland's family law legislation and extensive experience in dispute resolution, property settlement, LGBTQI+ law, and related issues, we can guide you through the process with care and expertise. Please get in touch with us on (07) 5526 3646 or via our contact form. We’ll help you navigate this difficult time with compassion and skill, ensuring the best possible outcome for your unique situation.