SINGAPORE: More couples ended their marriages while fewer tied the knot last year, according to Department of Statistics (Singstat) data released on Wednesday (Jul 13).
The number of divorces and annulments rose 2.9 per cent, with 7,522 marriages dissolved, up from the 7,307 dissolutions in the previous year.
A total of 28,322 couples tied the knot last year, down from the 28,407 marriages registered in 2014. The number of Muslim marriages rose from 5,544 to 5,778, helping to mitigate the decline in the number of civil marriages from 22,863 to 22,544.
MORE OLDER COUPLES DIVORCING
Between 2005 and 2015, there was a “significant shift” in the age profile of divorcees, with an increase in the number of older couples getting divorced, Singstat said.
Among men, the proportion of divorcees aged 45 years and above rose from 30 per cent in 2005 to 42.4 per cent last year. For women, the proportion rose from 20.1 per cent to 27.5 per cent.
The median age at divorce was 42.9 for men and 38.8 for women, up from 39.1 years and 35.4 years, respectively, in 2005.
Marriages also did not last as long, with the median marriage duration for divorces in 2015 at 10 years, slightly shorter than the 10.4 years in 2014.
Among civil divorces, the largest group was couples who were married for five to nine years (31.5 per cent). This was followed by those who were married for 20 years or longer, accounting for 21.3 per cent of all civil divorces.
For Muslim divorces, couples who were married for less than five years, and between five and nine years formed the largest groups in 2015, each accounting for 26.8 per cent. Next were the couples who were married for 20 years or longer at 18.3 per cent.
More than half (53.7 per cent) of plaintiffs in civil divorces cited “unreasonable behaviour” as the main reason for divorce, while 42.6 per cent cited “having lived apart or separated for three years or more”. In 61.6 per cent of the cases, the divorce was initiated by the woman.
Among Muslim divorces in 2015, “infidelity or extra-marital affair” was the top reason for divorcing, accounting for more than one in five divorces. The second-most common reason for divorce was “desertion” for male plaintiffs, and “financial problems” for female plaintiffs.
MORE MARRYING LATER
Many are choosing to marry later, with the median age for marrying rising from 29.8 years old in 2005 to 30.3 years old for grooms in 2015, and from 26.9 years old to 28.2 years old for brides.
Among first marriages, those with grooms older than brides were still the norm. However, the proportion had dropped to 66.8 per cent in 2015 from 73.7 per cent a decade ago.
Inter-ethnic marriages have become more common, making up 21.5 per cent of marriages last year, up from 14.9 per cent in 2005. Such marriages made up a larger proportion among Muslim marriages (33.8 per cent) than among civil marriages (18.4 per cent) last year.
More men are also marrying women with equal or higher educational qualifications. The proportion of university-educated grooms marrying brides with the same qualification rose from 71.1 per cent in 2005 to 80.3 per cent in 2015 for civil marriages, and from 46.2 per cent to 59.9 per cent for Muslim marriages.
Marriages involving minors – those aged below 21 years – remained uncommon, making up 0.2 per cent of grooms and 1.1 per cent of brides in civil marriages. For Muslims, the proportions declined to 1.5 per cent of grooms and 4.2 per cent of brides in 2015, from 3.5 per cent and 12.9 per cent, respectively, in 2005.
PARENTING PROGRAMME FOR DIVORCING PARENTS
To protect children whose parents are going through a divorce, the Mandatory Parenting Programme will be launched at the end of the year, Social and Family Development Minister Tan Chuan-Jin said in a blogpost on Wednesday.
“The programme will give them time and space to think deeply about issues they will face, both during and after divorce, and how they can protect their children's interests will be emphasised in all they do,” he said.
He also pointed out that the Ministry of Social and Family Development and its partners run marriage preparation and enrichment programmes for couples who run into marriage problems.
“These programmes will help us, as husbands and wives, to better understand and communicate with each other. It will give us skills to resolve conflicts when they arise,” Mr Tan said.
“A good marriage brings joy and deep fulfilment. But it will require our dedication and constant effort to maintain it. As much as we can, let's commit to our spouses and our marriage,” he added.