Relationships are tricky even at the best of times, and there's no doubt that recent increases in the cost of living has put a strain on many couples over the past year. However, the winding down of the pandemic through 2021 pushed up marriage rates. At the same time divorce rates also jumped up to a ten year high.
How many Australians are married?
Overall over half (56%) Australian adults are married or partnered, followed by 29% who have never been married and 9% who are divorced.
Finder's data shows men (59%) are more likely than women (53%) to be married or partnered. Women are more likely to never have been married (30%), to be divorced (9%), widowed (3%) or separated (3%).
Baby Boomers are the most likely generation to be married or partnered (64%) and divorced (16%). Unsurprisingly, Gen Z Aussies are the most likely to have never been married (61%).
Between the states, those living in South Australia are the most likely to be married (59%), while those in Tasmania and Western Australia are the most likely to be divorced (12%). Victoria is the state with the most single Aussies, with 32% of adults having never been married.
How many people get married each year?
In 2021, there were 89,164 registered marriages in Australia, representing a 13% increase compared to 2020, indicating that the winding down of COVID-19 pandemic lockdowns has had a substantial impact on couples tying the knot.
However, the marriage rate has been trending downwards for several decades. The marriage rate fell from 5.3 per 1,000 people in 2001, down to 4.5 per 1,000 in 2019 and down to 3.1 in 2020 during the pandemic. It has only increased slightly to 3.5 per 1,000 in 2021.
The most popular times to get married
In 2021, March and April were the most popular months to get married, with 11,838 and 10,456 weddings recorded respectively. Springtime weddings were also highly sought after, with November (8,828) and October (7,685) trailing closely behind.
Saturdays are by far the most popular day of the week to get married, with 41776 weddings in 2021 occurring on a Saturday, equivalent to 49% of all weddings in that year. Meanwhile, just 4% of weddings occurred on a Monday or Tuesday throughout the entire year.
Saturday 27 March was the single most popular day to get hitched in 2021, with a whopping 1,738 weddings recorded on that day in Australia.
How many people get divorced each year?
In 2021, there were 56,244 divorces granted in Australia. The median duration from marriage to divorce was 12.2 years, while the median duration to separation was 8.4 years.
The divorce rate has been steadily falling over time, down from an average of 2.9 divorces per 1,000 people in 2001 to 1.9 divorces per 1,000 people in 2020, and 2.2 in 2021.
The pandemic through 2021 has had the predicted effect of causing a small uptick in divorces due to long periods of household isolation. However, the long-term trend of the falling divorce is more likely due to fewer people being married in the first place.
Between the genders, women tend to divorce at a younger age than men on average. For women, the median age of divorce is 43 and 45.9 for men.
Married couples are in better financial positions than divorced or people who have never married
Finder's data shows those who are married or partnered are in better financial positions than those who are divorced, never married or separated. On average, married or partnered people $37,850 in cash savings compared to only $11,469 for those who are separated than any other group.
Interestingly those who are widowed tend to have the most cash savings at $37,952. This is likely due to inheritances.
Finder's data shows those who are married or partnered are in better financial positions than those who are widowed, divorced, never married or separated. On average they have more in cash savings ($35,898) than any other group.
Likewise, married or partnered Australians also put substantially more money into savings each month ($857) than unmarried ($570) or divorced people ($416).
Those who are married or partnered are less likely to report extreme financial stress (21%) than those who have never been married (27%). They are also more likely to report feeling secure in their jobs (69%) compared to divorcees (64%) and those who have never been married (62%).
Part of this is likely because marriage comes with age, meaning those who get married are likely already earning higher incomes than younger adults for instance.
Marriage can also create a financial buffer by bringing two incomes together under the same roof, making couples more financially stable than those who are single.
Divorcees and the separated carry the most credit card debt
Interestingly, those who are separated and divorced tend to carry more credit card debt. The separated carry on average $2,258 of credit card debt, and the divorced $1,878. However married and partnered people carrying only $1,744 on average. This disparity is likely due to the recent rise in cost of living which has increased costs of a person having to pay for separate housing, groceries and utilities.
Finder data also shows that cost of living pressure are also putting strains on relationships. Of the 358 people who said cost of living pressures had affected their relationship in some way in the last 12 months, 25% reported they have had to lie to their partner about their spending. More than 1 in 10 reported they had to continue living with an ex-partner to avoid extra housing costs. lie about losing their jobs.
Tips for a financially healthy relationship
Don't keep money secrets. Lying about your finances – from debt to secret spending – is a short-term bandaid for a problem that's likely to just keep growing. Aside from putting your relationship at risk, hiding your money habits can also have consequences for your partner, for instance if you apply for a home loan together. If you're concerned about you or your partner, the National Debt Helpline offers free financial counselling.
Consider life insurance. Getting married is one of the biggest milestones you'll pass in life, but it's also a good time to start thinking about life insurance. This will keep you both protected and able to meet your financial obligations in the event one of you passes away. Couples can get discounts of up to 5% by taking out a joint policy, and younger couples could save thousands by taking out cover before they reach old age.
Don't rush into things. Sharing your money is a sure sign of a serious relationship, but don't feel pressured to do so if you're not ready. Opening a joint bank account is a great way to easily manage joint expenses and bills, but you should only do so with someone you trust completely. It can also make things messy should you decide to split later down the track.
- Finder Consumer Sentiment Tracker
- ABS, Marriages and Divorces, Australia,
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