Getting a divorce is a painful but not unexpected occurrence in today’s world but for most of the 20th century this was not the case. At the start of the 20th Century, there was a slow but steady rise in the crude divorce rate (the number of divorces in a calendar year per 1,000 population), increasing from 0.1 divorces per 1,000 population for each year between 1901 and 1910, to 0.8 divorces per 1,000 population between 1961 and 1970. According to a recent report released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics[i], the introduction of the Family Law Act 1975 was by far the most important contributing factor involved in the higher divorce rates in the latter quarter of the century. The Family Law Legislation, which came into effect on the 5th January 1976, requires only one ground for divorce – irretrievable breakdown of the marriage, measured as the separation of the spouses for at least one year. It was the 1970’s and a time where, all over the world, changes in technology and lifestyles were happening faster than ever before and this new legislation was about to be embraced by a society that, until then, had few options when faced with an unhappy marriage.
Following the implementation of this law, there was a large increase in the divorce rate in 1976. The rate then declined over the next three years as the backlog of applications was cleared. Since then, the crude divorce rate has remained between 2.2 and 2.9 divorces per 1,000 population. In 2008, the crude divorce rate was 2.2 divorces per 1,000 population.
Interestingly, in 2008, 6.0% of divorces involved separation within the first year of marriage, 32.7% within the first 5 years and a further 21.7% were separated within 5 to 9 years of marriage. Of divorcing couples in 2008, 16.8% were married less than 5 years, 24.6% between 5 and 9 years and 58.6% were married for 10 years or more. Around 17.2% of divorces occurred to couples who had been married for 25 years or more.
So, bearing all of this in mind, what are people citing as the most common cause of their marriage breakdown? From my own experiences in Family Law I have listed (in no particular order) the ten most common reasons people seek a divorce:
- Financial Issues
- Communication Breakdown
- Physical, Psychological, or Emotional Abuse
- Sexual Incompatibility
- Religious and Cultural Strains
- Child Rearing
- Differences in Priorities and Expectations
There are other reasons which come up, but less so than the ones listed above. Interfering in-laws, controlling behaviour by a spouse and extreme fatigue are other reasons couples cite when ending a marriage.