Divorce Rates in Singapore

divorce rates in singapore

It’s an unfortunate reality that the divorce rate in Singapore, and indeed the modern culture, is high, common, and widespread.

There’s some good news if you’re hoping to join the marriage bandwagon, though. A recent statistic published by the Singapore Department of statistics, shows that more people are getting hitched, while fewer couples are dissolving their union, with 28,212 new Muslim and civil marriages registered in 2017, 0.9% up from the previous year, and just 7,578 annulments and divorces in 2017, down 0.5% from the previous year.

Read: What’s the Legal Difference Between Annulment and Divorce

Age-Sex Marriage And Divorce Rates

Singstat recorded a general increase in marriages amongst unmarried singles. It went up from 44.4 new marriages for every 1,000 unmarried males back in 2016, to 45.7 marriages in 2017. All between the ages of 15 to 49.

They also recorded a similar increase in female marriages, from 41.6 per 1,000 unmarried females in 2016, to 42.8 in 2017, within the same age bracket as males.

Directly contrasting this increase in the marriage rate is the divorce rate which showed just 6.9 divorces for every 1000 males over 20 years of age in 2017 – much lower than the 7.1 reported back in 2016.

Women aged 20 and above also had a drop in divorce rates, from 6.6 in 2016, down to 6.5 in 2017.

More people are also opting to divorce at a slightly later age than they did in previous years. The median age for male divorcees is now 43.2 years, up from 39.8 years over the past decade, and 39.1 years for female divorcees, up from 36.1 years.

As great as this late divorce age seems, we can’t really know if there has been any significant increase in the duration of marriages, so this late age could merely be an indication of people marrying later than usual.

Marriage Duration

The Singapore Department of Statistics has it on record that people are staying longer in marriages before going their separate ways.

As at 2017, the average marriage ended after 10.3 years, an increase from 9.6 years back in 2007. Most couples (30.2% or 1 in 3) separated between the 5 and 9 year mark in 2017.

So apparently, the increase in late divorce age can be partly ascribed to people staying longer with their partners.

Median Age of First Marriages

Even though men have generally tied the knot around the age of 30, the trend over the past decade, as recorded by Singstat, is of women choosing to get married at a slightly later age – from 27.2 back in 2007 to 28.4 in 2017.

This could mean women are putting themselves and their careers ahead of marriage since as a whole, married couples now have a much narrower gender-age gap.

Aside from longer marriage durations, marrying older also seems responsible for the late divorce age in females.

Inter-ethnic Marriages And Divorce

With more foreigners working and living in Singapore, and more Singaporeans living abroad, it’s only natural that there be more mixed marriages recorded, as citizens embrace other ethnicities.

Data released from Singstat shows that inter-ethnic marriages account for 22.1% of marriages in 2017, or 1 in 5 marriages (to give you a better perspective). This is up from 16.4% back in 2007.

This increase in inter-ethnic marriages tallies with the increase in divorce rates in the country amongst inter-ethnic marriages – going from 11.1% to 17.6% between 2006 to 2016.

So while Singaporeans can be applauded for their diversity, inter-ethnic marriages are still just as likely as the ethnic ones to fail. In fact the marriages that seem to be holding up so far are Muslim marriages – they’re actually responsible for the drastic fall in divorce rates in 2017, despite the spike in civil divorces.

Reason For Divorce

2015 had one of the worst divorce rates in Singapore, with women initiating more than half of the proceedings in both civil and Muslim divorces. 53.7% of the plaintiffs in civil divorces cited “unreasonable behaviour” as grounds for divorce, while 42.6% cited “long term separation”.

The predominant reason for Muslim divorces were overwhelmingly “extramarital affairs” – by both men and women. while financial issues and desertion were also listed.

So far, the Ministry of Social and Family Development has applauded the fall in the divorce rate in Singapore and has called for more reconciliatory efforts between couples – in the form of counselling and educative programs on the impacts of divorce on children – before they officially file for divorce.

The aim of programs like the Mandatory Parenting Program (MPP) is to, at the very least, make the whole process less antagonistic, if reconciliatory efforts fail.

Of course, the ministry can take its efforts even further by partnering with pre-marital counselling agencies whose aim is to ensure newlyweds are better prepared for the journey ahead.

If you’re interested in learning more about divorce in Singapore, contact us to get sound advice from our divorce lawyers.

Should you require legal representation, kindly contact Gloria James-Civetta & Co for a free 20 minute consultation with one of our family lawyers.

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