ACT News

Canberra has the highest divorce rate in Australia

Almost a third of marriage ceremonies in the ACT involve a minister of religion - the highest in Australia.

Marriage: For better, for worse - but more people are, instead, calling a lawyer.
Marriage: For better, for worse - but more people are, instead, calling a lawyer. Photo: Fairfax Media

The ACT has the highest divorce rate in Australia with the average marriage in the territory lasting 13.6 years before papers are lodged with divorce lawyers.  

According to data released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics, the ACT has a crude rate of 3.5 divorces per 1000 people which is 66 per cent higher than the national rate of 2.1 and almost 85 per cent higher than the NSW divorce rate.  

The data reveals more Canberrans are shying from matrimony with the territory's crude marriage rate of 3.2 the second lowest in the country and well below the national average of 3.9.

But the Canberran marriages that do last are enduring for longer than those of our interstate neighbours with the average relationship lasting 13.6 years before divorce, which is higher than the national average of 12 years.

The ABS data also reveals Canberran marriages last an average of 9.9 years before separation, which is higher than the national average.


Ruth Weston, an assistant director of research at the Australian Institute of Family Studies, has described the increase in the divorce rate in Australia as "one of the most spectacular family-related trends in the 20th century".

There were 118,962 marriages registered in Australia during 2013 with 1460 couples tying the knot in the ACT. November and March proved the most popular time for Canberrans to wed.

The ACT has the highest median age for divorce for females in Australia at 43.2 years – higher than the national average of 42 years - while the average age for males was 45.5 years.

While only 609 Australians lodged divorce papers in their first year of marriage in 2013, this increased dramatically to 2500 divorces for those in the second to eighth year of marriage.

Nationally, 47,638 divorces were formalised during 2013 - a 4.6 per cent decline on 2012 figures - with 1332 divorces authorised in the ACT.

Australians are also waiting longer to tie the knot with the average man now reciting vows at the age of 31.5 and women at 29.5.

In 1993, the average age of marriage for men was closer to 29 years, while for women it was 26-years-old.

Almost a third of all marriages ceremonies in the ACT involved a minister of a religion which was the highest proportion in Australia.

Tasmania, ACT and Queensland reported the highest proportion of all divorces involving children, at 52, 50.3 and 49.9 per cent, respectively.

Adjunct Associate Professor of Clinical Psychology at the University of Canberra Amanda Gordon has said the secret to a successful marriage was to "never to go to sleep on an argument" and to always "look for ways to make the other person's life better".