Divorce Rate in Singapore – Understanding the National Marriage Divorce Statistics
In this day and age, a growing number of couples have been dissolving their marriages. Divorce in Singapore is on the rise, which is quite alarming. More couples are untying the knot as the years go by, so that marriages are not lasting for as long as they did in the past.
In the latest Statistics on Marriages and Divorces report by the Department of Statistics in Singapore, the total number of marital dissolutions (which comprises of divorces and annulments) was 7,522, depicting a 2.9% rise from the 2014.
In 2015, the general divorce rate increased slightly – the general divorce rate for males rose from 7.0 to 7.1 and 6.5 to 6.6 for females.
2. Divorce and Age
The period between 2005 and 2015 saw an exponential shift in the age profile of divorcees towards the older age groups.
For males, the proportion of younger divorcees (aged 25-34 years) decreased from 30.3% in 2005 to 19.8% in 2015. Conversely, the proportion of older divorcees (aged 45 years and above) increased from 30% in 2005 to a staggering 42.4% in 2015.
This was a similar situation with regard to female divorcees, as the proportion of younger divorcees (aged 25-34 years) saw a 10.1% decrease in 2015, down from 42.4% in 2005. As for older female divorcees, the numbers increased from 20.1% in 2005 to 27.5% in 2015.
This shift is also seen in the median age at divorce – in 2005, the median age at divorce was 39.1 years for males and 35.4 years for females. However, in 2015, it rose to 42.9 years and 38.8 years respectively.
3. Shorter marriages in 2015
The median marriage duration for divorces in 2015 has decreased from 10.4 years in 2014 to 10 years. This decline applies to both civil and Muslim divorces – decreasing from 10.5 years and 9.8 years respectively in 2014, to shorter terms of 10.3 years and 9.1 years in 2015.
In reference to Chart 2.5, amongst the civil divorces in 2015, the majority (31.5%) was made up of couples who were married for 5 – 9 years. The second largest group was couples who were married for 20 years or longer, making up 21.3% of all civil divorces.
As for Muslim divorces in 2015, couples who were married for less than 5 years and 5 – 9 years formed the largest groups, both accounting for 26.8% of all divorces. This was followed by couples who were married for 20 years or longer who accounted for 18.3% of all divorces.
4. Main reasons behind divorce
4.1 Main reasons behind civil divorces
In 2015, the main reasons behind civil divorces are as follows – more than half (53.7%) the plaintiffs cited “Unreasonable behaviour” as the paramount reason for divorce. This is followed by 42.6% of plaintiffs filing for divorce due to “Having lived apart or separated for three years or more”.
Further, 61.6% of civil divorces in 2015 were applied for by female plaintiffs. Amongst the female plaintiffs, “Unreasonable behaviour” accounted for the main reason behind divorce (59.9%). However, as for male plaintiffs, “Having lived apart or separated for three years or more” was the most commonly cited reason for divorce (51.6%).
4.2 Main reasons behind Muslim divorces
In 2015, Female plaintiffs constituted 69.1% of Muslim divorces. Both male and female plaintiffs cited “Infidelity or extra-marital affair” as the main reason for divorce, accounting for 20.8% and 21.0% respectively.
This is followed by “Desertion” for male plaintiffs at 16.1% and “Financial problems” for female plaintiffs at 14.5%.
5. Rate of Annulments in Singapore (Women’s Charter)
In 2015, 405 couples annulled their marriages and this figure has decreased from 446 annulments in the previous year. The median duration of annulled marriages was 2.0 years in 2015, which increased from 1.8 years since 2011.
With divorce in Singapore on the rise, perhaps having Marriage Counselling Programmes for couples in a difficult marriage situation could be a good idea, since married couples attending the programmes may be able to work the differences out and eventually decide against a divorce. Such an approach follows the feedback and research received from marriage counsellors, and suggests that these marriage-related programmes does enhance the overall quality of marriages and also improves relationship building skills amongst married couples.
In addition, taking into account the current divorce trends, perhaps more comprehensive marriage preparation programmes and seminars for couples preparing for their wedding can be conducted by MSF, community-centred organizations and relevant religious groups to help couples better understand topics such as communication, conflict management, commitment and problem-solving to build stronger and more lasting marriage unions. Perhaps the government can also chip in to provide subsidies and work closely with the other organizations to pro-actively encourage the soon-to-weds to attend such courses.
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