Many couples in South Africa are not making their 10th wedding anniversary - and it's mostly wives who are calling time on their relationships. Black families in particular are fracturing‚ as divorces climb.
The number crunchers at Statistics SA said on Wednesday that its review of marriages and divorces showed that 25‚326 divorces were granted in South Africa in 2016.
More wives than husbands – 12‚954 (just over 50%) women‚ compared to 8‚651 (34%) men - initiated divorce in 2016 while 1‚868 divorces were initiated by both husband and wife.
About 48 divorces were granted for same-sex couples of which 38 were female couples and 10 were male couples. StatsSA noted that there were also cases where the gender of the plaintiff was not specified.
Divorces were mainly from people who had married for the first time.
Four out of ten marriages did not last a decade.
The average age of a male divorce was 44 years and 40 for a female divorcee.
“Generally‚ there was an increase in the proportion of divorces for black Africans . . . from 2003 to 2016‚” Stats SA noted.
Elaborating‚ its report states: “Couples from the white population group dominated the number of divorces from 2003 to 2007; thereafter‚ black African couples had the highest number of divorces up until 2016. In 2003‚ 40% of the divorcees were from the white population group whereas 24.3% came from the black African population group. By 2016‚ 42% of the divorcees were from the black African population group and 24.8% from the white population group.”
Nearly eight out of every ten divorces granted in 2016 were in four provinces: the Western Cape (6‚224)‚ Gauteng (5‚816)‚ KwaZulu-Natal (4‚314) and Eastern Cape (3‚352). However‚ Stats SA pointed out that this could also be due to the fact that these provinces have the highest populations.
The peak age group at divorce for husbands was 40 to 44 for all population groups‚ except for white men where the highest peak was from the age group 45 to 49 years. In the case of wives‚ the peak age group for black African and coloured population groups was 35 to 39 years and the peak for Indian/Asian and white population groups was 30 to 34 years.
A total of 44.4% of the breakups were in marriages that lasted for less than 10 years.
“Population group variations showed that 31.7% of divorces from the black African; 25.4% from coloured; 25% from white and 22.4% from Indian/Asian population groups were marriages that lasted between five and nine years. The white population had the highest proportion (22.6%) of divorces that occurred in the first five years.”
If you can make it past that threshold‚ there is a good chance your marriage will last.
Stats SA noted: “The proportion of divorces in all population groups declined as the duration of marriage increased‚ with a significant decline being observed after nine years of marriage.”
Over half of the recorded divorces were parents with children younger than 18.
For those getting hitched‚ Stats SA found:
- 139‚512 civil marriages were registered in South Africa in 2016 - The majority of civil marriages in 2016 for both bridegrooms (113‚738) and brides (120‚501) were first-time marriages. - The number of registered customary marriages was 3‚978 in 2016. The majority (85.7%) of bridegrooms were older than their brides‚ with the gap in median ages at customary marriage much wider than other types of marriages. - The number of registered civil unions in South Africa in 2016 was 1‚331.
More than half (57.9%) of the 2016 marriages were solemnised by Department of Home Affairs marriage officers and 31% by “religious rites”. Most customary marriages were registered in KwaZulu-Natal‚ followed by Limpopo and Eastern Cape.