Australian divorce rates 'up 8.7%'

Date: Apr 19, 2013

Divorce rates have risen by nearly nine per cent over the last five years, according to new statistics.

Figures released by analyst firm IBISWorld today (April 19) found there has been an 8.7 per cent jump in the number of marriage splits since 2008.

The data showed there were now 51,311 divorces a year, equating to approximately 2.3 per 1,000 resident population.

General manager of IBISWorld Karen Dobie said these increases had led to a rising reliance on divorce lawyers during the separation phase.

"The complexities of divorces - involving the division of assets and the care of children or loved ones - means individuals are inclined to seek the advice of lawyers," she explained.

"Key services provided by firms specialising in family law include the provision of advice, litigation, alternative dispute resolution and arbitration."

The cost of hiring a divorce law firm usually depends on the specific circumstances of each case, with Ms Dobie claiming contested divorces are usually more expensive due to the additional complexity of the proceedings.

Indirect costs relating to divorce may include child care, lost hours at work and relocation. Counselling services can also be a factor during the separation period.

According to IBISWorld, the number of weddings occurring each year has increased more slowly than divorce rate growth - 6.1 per cent and 8.7 per cent respectively.

This now means that one in three marriages ends in separation, the organisation said.

Despite this, the figures showed the length of time people remain together before splitting has stayed relatively the same.

This is typically eight years before couples separate and 12 years until a divorce is finalised.

"As couples are choosing to marry later in life, the age at which people divorce is also rising," Ms Dobie continued.

"In the last two decades, the median age at separation and divorce has increased by approximately six years for both men and women."

By 2010, the average age of separation and divorce for men was just under 41 and 44.4 respectively, compared with 35.3 years and 38.2 years in 1990.

Alternatively, a woman's median age at separation and divorce has risen from 32.4 and 35.3 respectively to 38.1 and 45.5 over the same two decades.

Ms Dobie highlighted a number of factors that are leading to the jump in divorce rates, including declining religious participation, more work pressures, longer hours in the office and greater individual independence.