9 facts about divorce in South Africa

Divorce rates in South Africa have increased by 5%, according to data by Stats SA.

Statistics from 2012 shows that 161,112 marriages took place in SA, while just fewer than 22,000 marriages ended.

It’s commonly held belief that a high divorce rate is a new trend of a lazier generation that refuse to “stick it out” and make a marriage work.

A research survey conducted by Pew Research in 2014 found that 40% of South Africans took moral objection to divorce – versus a combined 31% of people who said it was fine, or not a question of morality at all.

According to attorney Hugh Raichlin, however, current divorce rates are far from “new”.

“What is a trend we are seeing is that the number of marriages have decreased,” he said during an interview with the SABC.

Raichlin quoted a stat showing that between 2003 – 2013, marriage has decreased by 10% – but this could be because statistics on co-habitation aren’t being gathered, he said.

Why do people get divorced?

According Raichlin communication is the biggest problem in marriages. “People find it difficult to communicate with each other – and after the initial infatuation period, reality hits home.”

Finances are another issue – particularly in south Africa, where we live in tough economic times.

This is reflected in Stats SA’s data, based on divorce numbers from 2012, which showed that 24.3% of divorces are between couples not economically active.

Another factor leading to divorce is a lack of basic human values, where the attorney sees high levels of infidelity.

“Marriage is hard work..whatever you want to succeed at in life that has value, needs hard work and effort. You reap what you sow,” Raichlin said.

Here are the hard facts about divorce in South Africa:

  • In 2012 there were 161,112 marriages, and just under 22,000 divorces.
  • 53% of marriages are solemnised at the Department of Home Affairs (where 75.6% end up in divorce); 30% are religious (20% end up divorced); 17% are unspecified (4.3% end up divorced).
  • Almost half (46.1%) of the divorces between white couples are from marriages solemnised by religion. All other race groups’ divorces were mostly solemnised by the DHA.
  • The most common age of divorce is 42 for men and 38 for women.
  • Most divorces take place between 5 and 9 years of marriage.
  • Divorces differ among race and class, with white people having the highest divorce rate between 2002-2007, with blacks overtaking whites (2008-2012).
  • Raichlin says that 45.2% of white marriages end in divorce, and over 50% of black marriages go the same route.
  • A quarter (24.3%) of divorces happen between couples who are not economically active. 11.1% of divorcees are in clerical or sales positions, and 10.4% are managers and administrators.
  • More than half of all divorces (54.9%) are between couples with children under the age of 18.

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9 facts about divorce in South Africa