Divorce is becoming more and more common in this day and age. It’s not unusual to see headlines of our favourite celebrity couples throwing in the towel on their marriage and divorce stories on our social media feeds, news networks, and television.
We’ve taken a closer look at the divorce rate by country across the globe and it appears that overall, marriage is becoming less popular, yet divorce and separation appears to be on the rise, see below.
Marriage and divorce rates: what the stats say
After taking a closer look at the divorce rate of countries across the globe, marriage is becoming less and less popular. On the contrary, divorce continues to rise each year. So, what’s causing wedded couples to give up on their marriage? Well, we’ll talk about that shortly, but first, let’s see why these statistics matter in the first place.
Why do divorce statistics matter?
Understanding marriage and divorce rates is vital for a wide range of reasons. Marriage trends and divorce trends can tell us about societal changes and expectations.
While divorce applications in most countries require a reason for the divorce, by being able to review country divorce rates, we can see how the differences and similarities in cultures and society may impact the way people live their lives.
For us as family lawyers, understanding divorce rates and statistics can help guide us in how we approach our clients and the advice we provide. We work with people and families who are facing many different kinds of family law matters, including divorce and marriage.
We help people to prepare for marriage by protecting their assets and financial freedom, we help people who are ending their relationship and need to manage the processes associated with that, like property settlements and parenting arrangements, and we help people who are stuck in abusive relationships or feel trapped by their circumstances. As our role is very multifaceted, it means we have many different ways we could approach it and understanding divorce rates and trends helps us to do so.
For you, if you’re considering marriage, divorce rates may be of interest as they could help you to understand the issues you could face in marriage and help you to tackle them head-on before it results in a divorce.
What is meant by crude divorce rate?
Crude divorce rate refers to the number of marriages or legal unions that are dissolved each year per 1000 adults. Crude divorce rates are often used to summarise data and don’t take the various factors for divorce, it is simply the measurement of the number of divorces.
Countries with the highest divorce rate worldwide
As divorce becomes more widely accepted in many areas of the world, the countries with the highest divorce rates have changed too. Below we’ve listed some of the countries with the highest rate of divorce in the world.
One thing to keep in mind, these divorce statistics don’t factor in couples who have separated but have not legally divorced.
Russia: 4.7 Divorces per 1,000 People
Russia is made up of 145,912,025 people with a crude divorce rate of 4.7, making it a large country with a booming population. Although Russia may seem like a thriving country, poverty is considered high in the nation. According to Statista, one-third of Russians get divorces because of having no or not enough money. The second popular reason is the lack of mutual understanding between spouses.
There are two types of divorces in Russia: judicial and administrative. According to the law, you don’t need to be legally separated to apply for divorce. Unlike most countries, the Russian divorce process is cheaper, and divorcees are allowed to handle specific issues such as division of property, finances, and child custody arrangements separately from divorce proceedings
Russia is made up of 145,912,025 people, making it a large country with a booming population. Although Russia may seem like a thriving country, poverty is considered high in the nation. According to Statista, one-third of Russians get divorces because of having no or not enough money. The second popular reason is the lack of mutual understanding between spouses.
There are two types of divorces in Russia: judicial and administrative. According to the law, you don’t need to be legally separated to apply for divorce. Unlike most countries, the Russian divorce process is cheaper, and divorcees are allowed to handle specific issues such as division of property, finances, and child custody arrangements separately from divorce proceedings.
Guam: 4.2 Divorces per 1,000 People
Surprisingly, Guam is also one of the countries with the most divorces. Due to its alarming divorce rate, catholic churches have decided to step up their efforts to help keep marriages together.
In Guam, you can file for a no-fault divorce or a fault-based divorce. A no-fault divorce is usually due to irreconcilable differences and doesn’t mention that your spouse is responsible for the dissolution of the marriage. A fault-based divorce is when your spouse is responsible for the end of a marriage. This is usually due to a variety of factors such as:
- Extreme cruelty
- Inability to provide for the household
Moldova: 3.7 Divorces per 1,000 People
Throughout the years, Moldova’s divorce rate has risen significantly. Although it did decrease in 1999-2018, it began to rise again in 2019 and after. According to statistics, the number of children born has reduced, and couples forming families are declining. The divorce rate in the country is also 50% of all marriages.
Data also shows that fewer couples have chosen to get married, and more choose to get divorced instead. The Registry Office data showed that more than 10,000 couples divorced and 22,000 couples married in 2016, with the shortest marriage lasting only one day.
Belarus: 3.4 Divorces per 1,000 People
Belarus has been dubbed the land of broken marriages due to its high divorce rate, with money issues being cited as one of the main culprits. The unstable economy has affected the marital choices of Belarusians.
However, we shouldn’t blame it entirely on money problems. Many Belarusians, especially women, have opted to marry foreigners outside of the country, explaining why marriage in Belarus has declined dramatically.
Latvia: 3.1 Divorces per 1,000 People
According to statistics, the number of divorces is relatively high in Latvia, with more couples choosing not to have children, and the share of single-parent families has risen.
The reason for the country’s high divorce rate is unexplainable. However, it may be due to instabilities in marriages and Latvians choosing to marry at an older age. Getting married at 18 used to be the norm, but today, Latvians prefer to marry close to 30.
Countries with the lowest divorce rates in the world
While there have been increases in divorce around the world, there are still countries where divorce rates are very low. Below, we’ve listed some of the countries with the lowest divorce rate worldwide.
Sri Lanka: 0.15 Divorces per 1,000 People (Updated 2023)
According to Statista, Sri Lanka has the lowest divorce rate in the world at the moment and this is based on statistics from 2020 onwards.
A probable reason for the very low divorce rate in Sri Lanka is that the country’s divorce laws make it difficult to establish grounds for divorce. The divorce laws require that fault is to be proven in order to get a divorce which can be hard for couples and discourages divorce.
Vietnam: 0.2 Divorces per 1,000 people (updated 2023)
Loyalty within the family and relationships are heavily emphasised in Vietnamese culture which is believed to be one of the reasons that divorce rates tend to be low in Vietnam. Another potential factor in the low divorce rate is that Vietnam has a high Catholic population.
Guatemala: 0.2 Divorces per 1,000 People (updated 2023)
Guatemala has the lowest divorce rate out of all the countries globally, boasting only 0.3 divorces for every 1,000 population. The law in Guatemala allows marriages for girls of 14 and boys of 16-18 years old. Despite the young ages Guatemalans get married at forced marriage is illegal and marriages seem to last.
Peru: 0.5 Divorces per 1,000 People
Similar to Vietnam, the low divorce rate for Peru could possible be due to a variety of factors such as religion and family values. Like in many Asian cultures, in Latin America, family unity is highly valued. Couples are taught to avoid divorce and remain together despite their hardships.
Ireland: 0.7 Divorces per 1,000 People
Compared to the rest of Europe and the world, Ireland’s divorce rate is considered remarkably low, with only 0.7 divorces per 1,000 people. Despite being a predominantly Roman Catholic country, the divorce rate among Catholics was 4.1%. This is deemed high compared to other Catholic European countries such as the UK, Poland, and Spain, with divorce rates of 1.9%, 1.8%, and 2.1%.
Qatar: 0.7 Divorces per 1,000 People
Over the last decade, the divorce rate in Qatar has increased by 70%. Despite the sharp increase, The Qatari divorce rate is still one of the lowest globally, with only 0.7 divorces per 1,000 people. Getting a divorce in Qatar requires many decisions and moral or religious differences can impact it how divorce will work.
Malta: 0.7 Divorces per 1,000 People
Malta has the lowest divorce rate in the EU, with only 0.8 divorces per 1,000 people. The low divorce rate in Malta can also be due to the restrictive criteria for obtaining divorces. According to the law in Malta, spouses have to live apart for at least four years since the date of their legal separation to be eligible for divorce. Couples must also convince the court that reconciliation isn’t possible, making divorce less accessible.
How and why does religion affect global divorce rates?
Religion can have varying effects on divorce rates, and the specific impact depends on a variety of factors such as cultural norms, religious teachings, and social structures within a particular community or country.
Divorce is more common in religions like protestant, Muslim, Judaism, and Catholicism, with a divorce rate of between 21%-34% of marriages ending in divorce. Religions like Buddhism and Hinduism have very low divorce rates of 10% and 1% respectively.
The relationship between religion and divorce is complex but it could influence divorce rates in a number of ways, including:
Cultural Norms and Social Pressure
In certain religious communities, there may be strong cultural norms and social pressure to uphold traditional family values and discourage divorce. These norms can create a social environment where divorce is stigmatised which may lead to individuals being more reluctant to pursue divorce even in unhappy or abusive marriages. Consequently, divorce rates may be lower in these religious communities due to the influence of cultural and social factors.
Religious teachings on marriage
Many religious traditions emphasise the sacredness and permanence of marriage, encouraging individuals to view it as a lifelong commitment. Religious teachings often emphasise the importance of marital fidelity, communication, forgiveness, and conflict resolution, which can contribute to stronger marriages and potentially lower divorce rates among religious adherents.
Supportive community structures
Religious communities often provide support systems for couples and families. They may offer pre-marital counselling, marriage enrichment programs, and pastoral guidance to help couples navigate challenges in their relationships. Access to these resources and supportive community structures can positively influence marital stability and contribute to lower divorce rates.
Legal and socioeconomic factors
In some countries where a particular religion is dominant, religious laws or societal norms based on religious principles can restrict or discourage divorce. Legal barriers, such as longer waiting periods or stringent requirements, may make it more challenging for couples to obtain a divorce. Additionally, socioeconomic factors, which are often intertwined with religious affiliation, can impact divorce rates. Higher levels of education and income, which are associated with lower divorce rates, can sometimes be more prevalent among certain religious groups.
As we mentioned earlier, the relationship between religion and divorce is complication and other factors such as individual beliefs, cultural diversity within religious communities, and the influence of secular values can also play a role in the stability of marriage and divorce rates.
How long is the average marriage by country?
The length of a marriage can be influenced by a myriad of factors, from the age a couple was married to their jobs, personal commitment, and ability to communicate.
The country with the longest average marriage length in the world is Ecuador, with an average marriage lasting 14.9 years. Australia comes in at number 5, with an average marriage length of 12.3 years, and the USA comes in 10th with an average marriage length of 8 years.
Some things that could influence how long a marriage lasts include:
- Compatibility and Relationship Satisfaction. Mutual respect, effective communication, shared values, and emotional support contribute to a healthier and more enduring relationship.
- Communication and Conflict Resolution. The ability to communicate effectively and resolve conflicts constructively is essential for a successful marriage. Couples who can address issues, express their needs, and find compromises are more likely to maintain a long-lasting marriage.
- Commitment and Dedication. The level of commitment and dedication that each partner brings to the marriage can impact its duration. A strong commitment to making the relationship work, investing time and effort into the partnership, and prioritising the well-being of the marriage can contribute to its longevity.
- External Stressors. External factors, such as financial difficulties, job stress, health issues, or family problems, can place a strain on a marriage. Couples who can effectively navigate and support each other through these challenges are more likely to sustain their relationship.
- Cultural and Social Factors. Cultural and social norms, expectations, and values within a particular community or society can influence the length of a marriage. Factors like religious beliefs, societal pressure, and the influence of family and friends can either contribute to the longevity of a marriage or create additional challenges.
- Socioeconomic Factors. Economic stability, financial security, and access to resources can impact the length of a marriage. Higher levels of education, income, and employment stability have been associated with longer-lasting marriages.
- Personal Growth and Development. Individuals’ personal growth and development can impact the dynamics of a marriage. Couples who support and encourage each other’s personal goals and aspirations, while also maintaining a strong connection and shared goals, are more likely to have a lasting relationship.
- Legal and Cultural Factors. The legal framework surrounding marriage, including divorce laws, can affect the duration of a marriage. In some cases, strict legal requirements or social norms against divorce may influence couples to stay together even in unhappy marriages.
Why do people get divorced around the world?
Every year, world organisations such as the UN record global divorce rates. According to the data, the marriage and divorce statistics are changing significantly due to several reasons. The most common reasons for divorce include:
- Lack of commitment
- Excessive arguing
- Marrying too young
In addition to the above reasons, the data also lists the following as cited causes for divorce:
- unrealistic expectations
- lack of equality in the relationship
- lack of preparation of marriage
- domestic violence or abuse
As you can imagine, the above reasons can certainly take a tole on a marriage. It’s also important to remember that the factors listed above are often only one aspect. It may be a combination of these factors, as well as having to deal with every day stress too.
These reasons above can take a toll on a marriage, and this doesn’t include the other factors that cause couples to give up and end their lifelong covenant.
Facts about divorce
With so many interesting statistics and information about divorce out there, we’ve put together some more information and facts about divorce below:
Fact #1 The longest marriage in the world
The longest marriage in the world lasted a whopping 86 years and 290 days and was between Herbert and Zelmyra Fisher of the United States.
Born in 1905 and 1907 respectively, Herbert and Zelmyra married at 18 and 16 in 1924 and their marriage lasted right up until Mr Fisher passed away in 2011 on February 27th.
Having gone through some of the biggest events in the world, like the Great Depression and World War II, the couple stated that the secret to their long lasting marriage is that there is no secret at all – “we just did what was needed for each other and our family”.
Fact #2 The shortest marriage in the world
If we’ve talked about the longest, then we definitely need to talk about the shortest. The world’s shortest marriage occurred in Kuwait where the couple were married and divorced within three minutes.
After their marriage ceremony, the bride tripped on their way out of the courthouse and rather than helping her get up, her new husband called her “stupid”. This prompted the new bride to head straight back into the courthouse to demand a divorce from the judge who married them minutes before.
Fact #3 The most expensive marriage break-up in the world
The end of Bill Gates and Melinda Gates marriage led to the most expensive divorce in the world, with Melinda getting approximately $76 Billion which was half of Bill Gates worth of $152 Billion at the time.
Fact #4 Professions with the highest divorce rates
According to a study conducted by the US Census Bureau American Community Survey data the job industries below have the highest divorce rates:
- Military: with an overall divorce percentage rate of 3.09%, it is believed that the high divorce rate may be due to the mental and physical stress that people in the military may experience, as well as low salaries putting a financial strain on the couple.
- Health care support: the divorce rate is 2.65% for health care support workers and this is thought to be due to the low wages of those who work in the industry putting financial strain on the relationship as well as the mental and emotional toll these jobs can have.
- Food preparation and serving: the 2.49% divorce rate in this industry is attributed to the unusual hours that people in this industry tend to work. Substance abuse and risky behaviour for people working in this industry has been identified as a potential cause. These factors combined with low wages seems to take its toll on a relationship.
Fact #4 Divorce isn’t legal everywhere
While divorce has become more common around the world, there are still two places where divorce is illegal and this is in the Philippines and Vatican City. While divorce may be illegal, your religion may allow you to still get divorced, for example, Muslims in the Philippines can get divorced and both countries have an annulment process to allow for relationships to end.
Fact # 5 The world record for the highest divorce rate by country
There is a Guinness world record for the highest divorce rates worldwide and the country with the highest divorce rate ever is the Maldives. A crude divorce rate of 10.97 per 1000 people was recorded as the highest in the world in 2002 with the closest divorce rate less than half of that (Belarus 4.63).
Some reasons attributed to this high divorce rate include that there was a lack of court procedures that restricted divorce so it was somewhat easy to obtain and that the rules around property division were also lacking. The divorce rate has decreased over time as the government of the Maldives has put restrictions and sanctions in place around divorce.
Do you need a lawyer to get divorced?
Technically no, not in Australia. While you don’t need one, it is highly recommended to do so. The act of getting a divorce in Australia is relatively simple as the Australian divorce system is a no-fault one where neither spouse has to prove their spouse is at fault for the relationship breakdown and one person of the marriage can apply for the divorce and you can apply online.
However, while the divorce process is simple, it’s the consequences of divorce that make it tough – these being working out parenting arrangements and property division. If you have children you must work out parenting arrangements and custody, which can be an emotional process. You must also work out how you will divide your assets, which can be a contentious issue.
Working out how you will divide your assets and parent moving forward without a lawyer is possible but it can be difficult because not only will it be emotionally challenging but you also need to make decisions that are lawful. Working with a family lawyer to do this can make the process so much easier. We can offer advice, guidance and representation so that you know what you can and cannot do, as well as if you’re making a fair and reasonable agreement and one that adheres to the law.
Don’t overcomplicate your divorce, work with a family lawyer.
Divorce Is Still a Pressing Issue Worldwide
There’s no denying that divorce is still a very prominent issue in this day and age. As the years go by, divorce rates continue to rise, especially in well-developed countries like Russia and Latvia.
With marriage rates plummeting, most governments are aware of the issue and are actively working to improve marriage rates, so divorce isn’t the first option when couples have a hard time with their marriage.
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