20-year itch - increase in divorce after long marriages

Media release - 27 May 2013

More Australians are divorcing after twenty years or more of marriage, according to new data released today by the Australian Institute of Family Studies.

The AIFS' report Working Out Relationships reveals an increase in the number of couples divorcing after long periods of marriage.

AIFS' Director, Professor Alan Hayes said that the proportion of divorces ending after twenty years had increased from 13 per cent in 1990 to 28 per cent in 2011.

"Divorce trends have been heavily influenced by changing social norms about remaining in unhappy marriages. There is far less social stigma today about ending a marriage and women are less reliant on men for their financial stability," Professor Hayes said.

"The increased proportion of all divorces that entail longer term marriages also suggests that increasing numbers of parents will delay divorce until all of their children are at least 18 years old. It is not surprising that the proportion of divorces involving children under 18 years has declined over the last few decades."

AIFS' Senior Research Fellow, Lixia Qu said divorce after fewer than ten years of marriage remained the most common time for separation.

"We are also seeing partnership rates falling among middle aged people, reflecting both the decline in the marriage rate and the increase in divorce rates for middle age men and women. The fall in partnership rates was particularly evident among men aged in their late 40s to early 60s and for women in their early 40s through to their late 50s."

Read Australian Family Trends No. 3 Working out relationships

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