ACT News


Same-sex divorce rate lower than heterosexual couples

SINCE May 2008 just nine civil unions pledged between members of the same sex as an alternative to marriage have been terminated in the ACT.

It is a 1.1 per cent failure rate with 799 gay unions performed in the capital during the period.

In the same period there were 8711 marriages and 6965 divorces granted in the ACT.

Adjunct Associate Professor of Clinical Psychology at the University of Canberra Amanda Gordon said a straight comparison was not possible as the heterosexual divorce rate would include those married prior to 2008.

According to the Bureau of Statistics, the median length of marriage before separation in the ACT was 9.4 years with most couples divorcing almost 13 years after saying ''I do''.

But the probability that a traditional marriage will end in divorce is about 33 per cent.


Dr Gordon said early indications showed that gay couples were staying together longer. She attributed this to the lack of expectation to getting hitched and the conscious decision to do so.

''There are very few [terminations] because people have thought it through very carefully and understand the implications. … they are actually thinking very hard about the significance and importance of making it work.''

She said many people who were married in the traditional way had less commitment to the whole idea of marriage. ''They didn't have to work for it, if you like. If it ends they can do it again.''

As equality occurs, Dr Gordon said the gay marriage and divorce rate could well mirror heterosexual marriage.

''If homosexual couples slip in to marriage the way we do then I think you will find the same level of distress in a relationship as other people … these figures go some way to prove that if you put hard work into a relationship you can make it work, because these relationships have lasted the five-year distance in a way that is different to traditional marriages,'' she said.

''They don't take it for granted.''

She said being busy at work and not coming home, not appreciating your partner and spending all your time socialising with other people were signs of a union in trouble.

Dr Amanda Gordon's top marriage tips

■ Appreciate each other.

■ Find things to be grateful for within the relationship every single day and share that with your partner.

■ Look for ways to make the other person's life better.

■ Never go to sleep on an argument - sort it out.

■ Talk about it - whatever it is - talk about it.