More S'poreans Married in 2021, But Many Also Filed Divorce

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More Singaporeans Tied the Knot in 2021, But Many Also Ended Their Relationships

The Singapore Department of Statistics (DOS) released earlier in July 2022 the Statistics on Marriages and Divorces 2021 to give us a better idea of how many people in the city-state decided to tie the knot and end their marriages either through a divorce or an annulment amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Statistics on Marriages and Divorces is an annual publication presented in two parts: the first analyses marriage trends and the characteristics of grooms and brides, while the second focuses on trends in marital dissolutions and the characteristics of the divorcees. In its 38th edition, we have summarised below some of its highlights.


Marriages

As COVID-19 safe management measures eased in 2021, the number of registered marriages in Singapore (both civil and Muslim) reached a total of 28,329. This is 25.1% higher compared to 2020, which only saw 22,651 marriages — the biggest drop since 2000. The last time marriages hit the 28,000 mark was in 2017.

While the increase in 2021 is significant, it still didn’t make up for the low number of marriages in the past five years. Registered marriages in Singapore between 2012 and 2016 were at 27,778 on average, while the annual average between 2017 and 2021 fell a bit short at 26,327.

During the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, many weddings were postponed, especially when the circuit breaker measures by the government took place. Although it’s possible to appeal for it, many decided to put their plans on hold until more guests were allowed in social gatherings. This was to also avoid worrying about the financial disruptions and uncertainties of the situation every time.

Divorces and Annulments

The number of couples who decided to end their marriage through a divorce or an annulment in 2021, on the other hand, reached a total of 7,890. This is 13.4% higher compared to 2020, which went below the regular 7,000 mark by a few numbers at 6,959 — the lowest since 2006.

Like postponed marriages, many court hearings were adjourned, resulting in the delay of marital dissolutions. The Supreme Court issued a notice in April 2020 that State Courts and Family Justice Courts will hear only essential and urgent matters during the circuit breaker. These include civil matter appeals under the Protection from Online Falsehoods and Manipulation Act and the Protection from Harassment Act where issues of personal safety are involved. As for Family Justice Courts, they will only hear time-sensitive matters, life and liberty threatening situations, and issues involving the family’s urgent needs.

Most of the civil divorces were initiated by wives — about 3,771 wives (versus 2,136 husbands) under the Women’s Charter and 1,258 wives (versus 509 husbands) under the Administration of Muslim Law Act. Among the reasons for filing a divorce under the Women’s Charter were unreasonable behaviour and having lived apart for three years or more. As for Muslim divorces, there were four main reasons: infidelity, financial problems, domestic violence and abuse, and desertion.

The annual average of marital dissolutions between 2017 and 2021 is 7,479, which isn’t far from the average between 2012 and 2016 at 7,441.

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