Story: Divorce and separation

Divorce rate, 1939–2017

The rate of divorce (shown here per 1,000 marriages) has increased over time. There were abrupt jumps in the rate after wars, when new grounds allowed divorce for couples who previously could not do so, and when financial support became available for women who were separated or divorced. The particularly high spike in the rate in the early 1980s was a result of 'no-fault' divorce being introduced.

Divorce data used in the graph is based on orders granted for dissolution of marriage. Marriage data before 1991 is based on an estimated number of existing marriages of people living in New Zealand and people visiting from overseas. After 1991, estimated marriages of only those resident in New Zealand are used.

Using this item

Te Ara – The Encyclopedia of New Zealand

Sources: Statistics New Zealand; Roderick Phillips, Divorce in New Zealand: a social history. Auckland: Oxford University Press, 1981, p. 60

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How to cite this page:

Megan Cook, 'Divorce and separation - Growth in divorce: 1898–1979', Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, (accessed 15 April 2024)

Story by Megan Cook, published 5 May 2011, reviewed & revised 8 Nov 2018