SINGAPORE: The divorce rate in Singapore fell while the number of marriages increased last year, according to figures released by the Department of Statistics (Singstat) on Tuesday (Jul 10).
There were a total of 28,212 civil and Muslim marriages registered in 2017, 0.9 per cent higher than the previous year.
The general marriage rate for males increased from 44.4 marriages per thousand unmarried males aged 15 to 49 in 2016 to 45.7 in 2017, added Singstat. Similarly for females, the rate rose from 41.6 marriages per thousand unmarried females aged 15 to 49 to 42.8 over the same period.
A total of 7,578 marriages ended in a divorce or an annulment in 2017, 0.5 per cent lower than the 7,614 marital dissolutions in the previous year. This was due to the decline in Muslim divorces, which more than offset the slight increase in civil divorces, according to Singstat.
The general divorce rate fell to 6.9 male divorcees for every thousand married males aged 20 and over in 2017, lower than the rate of 7.1 in 2016. Similarly, the rate for females fell to 6.5 per thousand married females aged 20 and over in 2017, from 6.6 in the previous year.
The median age at divorce rose over the last 10 years. The median ages for male and female divorcees were 43.2 and 39.1 respectively in 2017, up from 39.8 and 36.1 in 2007.
The median duration of marriage for divorces similarly rose, to 10.3 years in 2017, up from 9.6 years in 2007. Couples who were married for five to nine years accounted for the largest share (30.2 per cent) of all divorces in 2017.
Singstat added that the median age of first-time grooms was relatively stable over the last decade, falling to 30.0 years in 2017 after rising from 29.8 years in 2007 to 30.3 years in 2016. On the other hand, the median age of first-time brides rose from 27.2 years in 2007 to 28.4 years in 2017, thus narrowing the gender age gap.
Meanwhile, inter-ethnic marriages continued to increase in 2017 to 22.1 per cent of total marriages, up from 16.4 per cent in 2007.
STRENGTHEN AND SUPPORT
In a Facebook post on Tuesday, Minister for Social and Family Development (MSF) Desmond Lee said his ministry will continue to work to strengthen marriages and provide support for families where marriages have broken down.
"Our Divorce Support Specialist Agencies conduct support programmes and counselling for divorced or divorcing families. For example, parents with children below 21 years of age and are unable to agree on divorce and ancillary matters, are required to undergo the Mandatory Parenting Programme (MPP) before they file for divorce," he added.
Mr Lee said the MPP "helps parents understand the impact of their divorce on their children."
He added: "We also set up a committee with the Ministry of Law and the Family Justice Courts this year to review and enhance reforms in the family justice system. This review includes studying how we can make the divorce process less adversarial by harnessing the benefits of restorative and therapeutic justice."