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Stats – families, divorce and more… courtesy of ABS

By January 15, 2014January 24th, 2014No Comments

Whilst families are a basic unit in our society, patterns of cohabitation, separation, and divorce have resulted in many differences in family structures. In recent years the rate of marriage has remained stable although Australians have both been marrying when they are older, and delaying having children until later in life. Today, more Australians are in de facto relationships than ever before.

Each year around 5.4 marriages occur for each 1,000 people in our population, that’s around 120,000 marriages each year. The median age at first marriage for women is around 28 and for men is around 30. Around half of all Australians are in a registered marriage.

Nearly 11% of Australians (2 million people) live in a de facto relationship.  De facto relationships are most common amongst younger people. Over the last 20 years or so the number of people living in de-facto relationships, young and old, has more or less  doubled – including those living in a same-sex relationship – to around 50,000 people.  Around 80% of couples now have a period of cohabitation before marriage.

Around 50,000 divorces are granted each year. The median length of marriage before separation is around 9 years, and for divorce around 12.3 years. The median age for women to separate is 38, and for men is around 40.

The highest rates of marriage are in Queensland with 5.9 marriages per 1,000 population and 2.5 divorces per 1,000 population. The Northern Territory has the lowest marriage rate at 4.2, as well as the lowest divorce rate at 1.9.

Around half of all divorces involve children. The reality of divorce means that many children live without regular contact with one or other of their parents (typically the father) after separation. Of the 5 million children in Australia aged less than 17, just over 20% (1 million) had a natural parent living elsewhere – for 80% of these children the parent living elsewhere was their father. Nearly half of these children saw this parent at least once per fortnight, whilst one quarter saw them less than once per year, or never. Nearly 75% of children with a parent living elsewhere were in one parent families, 14% lived in step families, and 11% lived in blended families.


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