Source: The Weekend Australian, 16 August, 1997, (Australia Today: An 8-page special) p.4


Ups and downs on
the marry-go-round

   FEWER people are marrying 
than at any time in the past 17 years, 
but the number of divorces has hit an 
all- time high.

   For every two marriages in 
Australia last year, there was one 
divorce, a ratio unheard of since 1976 
when the Family Law Act was 
introduced, making divorce easier.

   The latest figures from the 
Australian Bureau of Statistics also 
reveal that almost a third of the adult 
population has never married, 
compared with 25 per cent in 1976.

   And while most men and women 
still marry between their 25th and 
29th birthdays (the median age is 
now 29.6 years for men and 27.2 
years for women), more than half live 
with their partner before tying the 

   Last year, 106,100 marriages were 
registered, a fall of nearly 8 per cent 
since 1986 and the lowest number 
since 1979.

   The crude marriage rate of 5.8 per 
1000 population was the lowest 
recorded in Australia this century.

   When we do marry, more of us than 
before prefer a civil celebrant to a 
traditional church wedding. Civil 
marriages comprised 43.1 per cent of 
all marriages in 1994 compared with 
28.9 per cent in 1976 and
   10.8 per cent in 1966. Last year 
also saw the granting of 52,500 
divorces, an increase of 13,100 on 

   This takes the divorced population 
to 942,000, more than four times the 
size it was two decades ago.

   Most applications for divorce 
continue to be lodged by wives (46 
per cent) although joint applications 
are also increasingly common, 
comprising 22 per cent of last year's 
divorces compared with 7 per cent in 

   Almost 40 per cent of marriages are 
now likely to end in divorce within 
30 years, 19 per cent within 10 
years, and about 8 per cent within 
five years.

   People in second or subsequent 
marriages have an even greater 
chance of marriage failure: a 20 per 
cent risk after 10 years, 35 per cent 
after 20 years and 42 per cent after 30 

   However the number of people 
remarrying has declined for almost 
all age groups in the 10 years to 

   The number of children affected 
by divorce has also declined. In 
1986, 60 per cent of divorces 
involved children, but by 1996 the 
proportion had fallen to 54 per cent.


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