SA's divorce rate ticks down; women mostly initiating separation - Stats SA

StatsSA released its 2019 Marriages and Divorces report and found that a total of 129,597 civil marriages, 2,789 customary marriages and 1,771 civil unions were recorded that year, while 23,710 divorces were recorded.

© olgasab/123rf.com

JOHANNESBURG - While most couples vow to be together until death do them part when they marry, it's never a guarantee that happily ever after will indeed be their reality.

Just ask the over 23,000 couples who filed for divorce in 2019, according to Statistics South Africa (StatsSA).

StatsSA on Thursday released its 2019 Marriages and Divorces report which presented information on civil marriages, customary marriages, civil unions and divorces recorded by the Home Affairs Department in 2019.

The median age for men who married for the first time was 37, while for most women it was at age 33. When it came to divorce, most male divorcees were around age 45 and women age 41.

The report found that a total of 129,597 civil marriages, 2,789 customary marriages and 1,771 civil unions were recorded that year, while 23,710 divorces were recorded.

Overall, the divorce rate in South Africa showed a downward trend from 2017 to 2019, with a decrease of 0.4% between 2017 and 2018 and 6.2% (1,574) divorces from the 25,284 cases processed in 2018.

In 2019, about 174 divorces were granted for same-sex couples.

In 2019, black couples had the highest number of divorces compared to other population groups. About 10,677 (45%) of the divorces granted in 2019 were from black couples followed by white 5,268 (22.2%), coloured 4,502 (19.0%), Indian/Asian 1,299 (5.5%) and divorces from different population groups (mixed) 816 (3.4%). The population group of 1,148 couples was not specified.

However, when taking a look at the divorce rate proportion within each population group, white couples had the
highest rate of 112 per 100,000 estimated residents, followed by the coloured and Indian/Asian population groups with 87 and 85 per 100,000 respectively. Black couples had 23 divorces per 100,000 estimated resident population.

The report noted that more women initiated divorce proceedings (53.2%) than men (34,6%). In 12.2% of recorded divorces, the gender of the plaintiff was not specified.

THIRTY-FIVE YEARS AND MORE FOR HAPPILY EVER AFTER

It seems the fifth to ninth years of marriage are the most trying for most couples, as across all population groups the highest number of divorces were recorded among couples who had been married within that period of time.

Couples married for more than 35 years saw the least number of divorces.

Download the Eyewitness News app to your iOS or Android device.