4 big factors impacting second marriage divorce rates in Australia
There were 89,164 marriages in Australia in 2021. Nearly 90,000 cakes, celebrations, flowers and vows of eternal love and loyalty. There were also 56,244 divorces in Australia in 2021.
According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, 30% of marriages in Australia end in divorce. Almost a third of all marriages that start with promises of lifelong fidelity end in separation. Unfortunately, divorce is even more likely in marriages where at least one of the parties has previously been divorced, which accounted for just over a quarter of all marriages in Australia in 2021 (25.7%).
So, what is the second marriage divorce rate in Australia?
For that quarter of Australia’s new brides and grooms, who are celebrating this once-in-a-lifetime event for the second time, divorce is twice as likely, jumping to 60% for those who are remarrying.
Marriage is an important junction in the lives of Australians, a decision filled with hope, anticipation, and apprehension. Understanding the factors that can contribute to a higher likelihood of divorce not only provides us with insight into our own relationships but can prepare us for when we might be faced with this decision ourselves.
1. Selection of those willing to leave a bad marriage
Violence, cheating, addiction. There are many reasons that people divorce their partners, and sadly many stay in unhealthy relationships and attempt to “stick it out”. The reason the second marriage divorce rate in Australia for remarrying couples is so high is because of a principle called “selection”.
While some may resiliently stay in a failing marriage no matter the cost, divorcees marrying again, as a group, are more likely to possess the trait of divorcing in the event of marital unhappiness. That is to say, remarriages are “selective” of people who are “not opposed in principle to divorce”, whereas, in first marriages, there is a higher percentage of people that will never consider divorce.
2. Selection of character traits conducive to divorce
There are traits that we have that are not conducive to a healthy marriage. People can be selfish, dishonest, or uncommunicative. It follows that some people have traits that make it especially hard for them and for their spouses to maintain a happy relationship. Remarriage may be a “selective” of people who have traits that make divorce more likely, as there will be a larger portion of people remarrying whose qualities contributed to the dissolution of their first marriage.
Beginning a new chapter together as a married couple is exciting, but challenges can arise for remarrying couples in their new roles as parents or step-parents. Remarriage can often involve new family dynamics that can introduce complexity and conflict to a relationship. This can be a new family formed of the children from either or both parties’ previous relationships, as well as the children the couple may have together. 8.5% of families in 2021 were stepfamilies, and 3.5% were blended families.
Fairytales such as Snow White, Cinderella, and Hansel & Gretel have propagated the character of “the wicked stepmother”, a vain and dastardly villain who resents the spawn of their partner’s previous marriage and favour their own children. Part of the reason these children’s stories continue to resonate throughout the centuries is because of how the Evil Step-parent can embody the misplaced resentment and blame that some children can direct towards their parents’ new partner.
Children can feel conflicted in their loyalty between their new step-parent and their parent’s former partner, their biological parent. Some research identifies stepchildren as “the principal destabilising element in remarriages”, and has attributed the presence of prior children to a 14% higher rate of separation and divorce for remarrying couples.
The formation of a new family, with new siblings and a new parent, can be a source of conflict that can affect the relationship of the remarried couple.
Of course, many families navigate this adjustment and form happy and healthy relationships with their new family members. Still, the potential strain and pressure arising from the formation of a new family is one contributing factor that can explain higher divorce rates for second marriages where one partner has married before.
4. Financial pressures
The dissolution of a marriage can come with continued financial costs beyond the initial division of property. You may still have to provide ongoing financial support for the upkeep of your former partner through spousal maintenance, as well as pay child support for the children of a prior marriage. These ongoing expenses can weaken one’s financial position, especially where there are multiple children of prior relationships or multiple ex-partners, and the resultant financial strain on a relationship can contribute to the greater second-marriage divorce rate among remarrying couples.
A final note on second marriage divorce rates in Australia
The reason second marriages are more likely to fail than first ones is multifaceted. Just because your marriage contains some of the reasons for divorce on this page does not condemn your marriage to divorce. The most common reason for divorce is a breakdown of communication, or “communicative issues”, and many Australians find comfort and happiness in their new marriage.
You can learn more about all things love, marriage and divorce statistics in the Australian Relationships Research Report here.
Communication with your new partner about why both of your prior relationships did not work, their existing family, and their financial situation, can inform you as to some of the difficulties you might face when considering remarriage.
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