The Myth Of The 50% Divorce Rate
It’s a popular myth among people; that as a sign of the times, 50% of marriages end in divorce. This myth began in the United States wherein most people believe that the sanctity of marriage has been sullied by sexual promiscuity. However, a study conducted by the Australian Institute of Family Studies, indicates that the divorce rate in Australia has been on a downward trend and has reached its lowest level in 40 years.
The decline in the divorce rate in Australia can be traced back in 1975 with the introduction of the no-fault divorce in the Family Law Act. The no-fault divorce clause means that there is no need to prove if either party are at fault in the breakdown of a marriage. The clause is designed to lessen the hostility in the divorce and to encourage both parties to resolve their differences peacefully, preventing heated courtroom battles, confrontation, and character mud-slinging. However, even if there is no need for proof, several elements can still be considered when it comes to custody and other arrangements such as substance abuse, domestic violence, and mental illness.
With the introduction of the no-fault divorce clause, the number of divorces have plummeted from 4.6 among 1000 Australians to just 2 as of 2016. There were 63,230 divorces recorded in Australia among its 14 million citizens back in 1976. That number has decreased to around 46,604 divorces by 2016, even though Australia’s population has ballooned to 24 million.
Divorce Rates By Demographic
In order to understand the trends of divorce rates in Australia, it would be appropriate to take a look at the marriage statistics as well. Marriage and divorce rates work hand-in-hand and understanding both metrics can also help us understand how one affects the other.
Marriage And Divorce Rates By Age
Most men and women in the 1970’s marry in their early 20’s. The average marrying age for men was at 23.4 years old while women marry at an average age of 21.1 years. By 2016, the average marrying age has risen by 8 to 9 years. Most women marry by the time they reach 29 years. Men, on the other hand, prefer marrying on around their early 30’s, mostly at 32 on average.
This means that as the years went by, men and women opted to wait longer before they settle down and marry. People believe that being older and wiser is akin to gathering more life experiences and making better choices in life. As a result, Australian divorce rates have been at its lowest in 2016 at 1.6 per 1000 Australian couples.
In 2006, women between the ages of 35 to 39 were most likely to file for a divorce. This age bracket increased by 2016 with women getting divorced by the age of 40 to 44. Men, on the other hand, tend to get a divorce when they reach 40 to 44 years old back in 2006. 2016 also saw an increase in this age bracket with men filing divorces between the ages of 45 to 49.
This increase in the average age of divorce over the decade is directly proportional to the increase in marrying age. With couple holding off marriage later in their lives, it also means that the possibility of divorce also happens later. Reinforcing this is the increase of the divorce rate among men and women within the 65 and over age bracket.
Marriage And Divorce Rates By Sexual Orientation
The institution of marriage has changed a lot since the 1970s. With society being more open to unions within the LGBT community, marriage and divorce statistics among same-sex couples have also been taken into consideration. Figures are not yet full in 2018 but according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, the end of December 2017 until June of 2018 saw 3149 records of same-sex marriages. These were the results of the amendments to the 1961 Marriage Act wherein gender and sexual orientation no longer determined the right to marry.
Figures are still incomplete for divorce rates among same-sex marriages. However, the amendments to the 1961 Marriage Act presented an opportunity for Australian same-sex couples to enjoy the same legal rights as heterosexual couples when it came to divorce. As an example, a couple in Perth waited for the new laws to take effect to end their marriage legally. Maria Loukas and Teresa Farmer became the same-sex couple to divorce legally in Australia.
Marriage And Divorce Rates By Country (Australia Vs The World)
Even though Australia has seen a decline in divorce rate since the 1970s, divorce rate across the rest of the world continues on an upward trend. Globally, the idea of marriage has become less popular over the decade and many couples prefer to cohabitate rather than get married.
Being the smallest country in Europe with a population of around 500,000, Luxembourg currently holds the highest divorce rate in the world with a percentage of 87% among 1000 people. The country follows the rest of the world with their marriages steadily decreasing until 2017.
Compared to the rest of the world, Australia ranks 9th among the highest divorce rates. This seems contradictory to the downward trend in divorces but this is also a result of the no-fault divorce clause. By eliminating the need to prove who is at fault in a marriage breakdown, it lessens the red tape in the legal proceedings. Nevertheless, Australia still ranks high among the average marriage lengths (5th overall in the world) with couples staying together for an average of 12 years.
Why Does Australia Have Falling Divorce Rates?
As mentioned previously, the introduction of the no-fault divorce clause encouraged couples to look for alternative ways to settle their differences before resorting to divorce. However, there are several other factors that contributed to the decrease in divorce rates in Australia.
- Marriage rates have decreased which means lesser people are getting married in the first place.
- More and more couples prefer to simply date and cohabitate rather than getting married.
- People tend to wait longer before getting married, thus we end up with older couples who are much wiser and tend to stay in the marriage longer.
Overall, the decline in Australian divorce rates proves the effectiveness of proper amendments to existing laws. Divorce is a life-changing decision that should have laws that protect families and promote fairness between both parties.