Marriage and divorce statistics 2021

The marriage rate plummeted 31% in 2020.

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Relationships are tricky even at the best of times, and there's no doubt the pandemic has put a strain on many couples over the past year. Unfortunately, ongoing lockdowns and isolation are predicted to contribute to rising divorce rates over the coming years. At the same time, a surge in marriages is expected as a result of many delayed weddings last year.

Using Finder's Consumer Sentiment Tracker and data from the ABS, we analysed the key trends around marriage, money and deceitful relationship habits.

How many Australians are married?

Overall three in five (60%) Australian adults are married or partnered, followed by just over a quarter (27%) who have never been married and 8% who are divorced.

Finder's data shows men (64%) are more likely than women (55%) to be married or partnered. Women are more likely to never have been married (29%), to be divorced (8%), widowed (4%) or separated (3%).

Millennials (gen Y) are the most likely generation to be married or partnered (68%), while baby boomers are the most likely to be divorced (16%). Unsurprisingly, gen Z Aussies are the most likely to have never been married (68%).

Between the states, those living in the ACT are the most likely to be married (65%), while Tasmanians are the most likely to be divorced (12%). Victoria is the state with the most single Aussies, with 29% of adults having never been married.

How many people get married each year?

In 2020, there were 78,989 registered marriages in Australia, representing a 31% decline compared to 2019, indicating the COVID-19 pandemic has had a substantial impact on couples hoping to tie the knot.

However, the marriage rate has been trending downwards for several decades. The marriage rate fell from 5.9 per 1,000 people in 2000, down to 4.5 per 1,000 in 2019 and just 3.1 per 1,000 in 2020.

The most popular times to get married

In 2020, February was the most popular month to get married, with 10,656 weddings recorded, followed closely by March (10,559). The pandemic caused marriages to plummet in April as restrictions were placed on large gatherings, but the number of marriages increased toward the end of 2020, with 9,736 weddings recorded in October.

Saturdays are by far the most popular day of the week to get married, with 36,965 weddings in 2020 occurring on a Saturday, equivalent to 47% of all weddings in that year. Meanwhile, just 3,545 weddings occurred on a Tuesday throughout the entire year.

Saturday 10 October was the single most popular day to get hitched in 2020, with a whopping 2,191 weddings recorded on that day.

How many people get divorced each year?

In 2019, there were 49,510 divorces granted in Australia. The average duration from marriage to divorce is 12.1 years, while the average duration to separation is 8.4 years.

The divorce rate has been steadily falling over time, down from an average of 2.8 divorces per 1,000 people in 1999 to 1.9 divorces per 1,000 people in 2020.

However, there are concerns the pandemic and ensuing recession could cause divorce and separation rates to rise in the coming months and years. Statistics from the Separation Guide show a 314% increase in the number of couples thinking about separating during lockdown.

Another survey from Relationships Australia last year found 42% of respondents said isolation had negatively impacted their relationship with their partner.

Between the genders, women divorce at a younger age than men on average. Up to the age of 44, the female divorce rate is higher than the male rate. Over the age of 45, men are more likely to get divorced than women.

Married couples are in better financial positions than single or divorced people

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 ($36,307) than any other group.

Likewise, married or partnered Australians also put substantially more money into savings each month ($928) than unmarried ($642) or divorced people ($336).

Those who are married or partnered are less likely to report extreme financial stress (18%) than those who have never been married (24%). They are also more likely to report feeling secure in their jobs (66%) compared to divorcees (61%) and those who have never been married (57%).

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 are more likely to be "spenders"

Interestingly, those who are divorced (8%) are more than twice as likely to have five or more years' worth of credit card debt as those who are married (3%).

Divorcees are also more likely to classify themselves as "spenders" than those who are married. A Finder survey found 47% of those who are divorced say they are spenders rather than savers, compared to 38% of those who are married.

1 in 4 Australians has lied to a partner about money

Close to a quarter of Australians (23%) have lied to a partner or been lied to about finances. Men are twice as likely to lie about their money, with 20% of men saying they have been untruthful to their significant other, compared to just 9% of women.

Having hidden debt is the biggest reason for lying, with 50% of those who have been in an untruthful relationship saying unpaid dues were the cause of dishonesty. The research also revealed 44% of partners in untruthful relationships lied because they wanted to maintain control over their own finances.

Meanwhile, just over one-third (35%) of partners in untruthful relationships have hidden secret purchases from their partner, with women more likely to have concealed their spending than men.

1 in 7 Australians has lived with an ex-partner

Most people would probably cringe at the thought of living with a former partner. However, a Finder survey of 1,010 respondents found that 15% of Australians have previously lived with an ex-partner to save on housing costs or avoid a costly move, while 4% currently are.

That's equivalent to roughly 3.6 million people who have continued living under the same roof with an ex-partner.

Millennials (26%) are the most likely to have continued living with an ex to save on moving costs, followed by 21% of generation Z. This is compared to 96% of baby boomers who have never continued to live with an ex.

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.

  1. Finder Consumer Sentiment Tracker
  2. ABS, Marriages and Divorces, Australia, 2019
  3. The Separation Guide
  4. Relationships Australia

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