Divorce or dissolution of marriage is the ending of a marriage before the death of either spouse. It can be contrasted with an annulment, which is a declaration that a marriage is void, though the effects of marriage may be recognized in such unions, such as spousal support or alimony, child custody, child support, and distribution of property.
In many developed countries, divorce rates increased markedly during the twentieth century. Among the states in which divorce has become commonplace are the United States, South Korea, and members of the European Union, with the exception of Malta (where all civil marriages are for life, because civil divorce is banned). In the
According to a study published in the American Law and Economics Review, women currently file slightly more than two-thirds of divorce cases in the
States in the
The divorce rate is generally low among Muslims, in comparison to other religious groups. This may be due to the somewhat strict limitations generally placed on divorce in Islam, as well as a very strong culturally-based stigma associated with it. However, at least in some Muslim populations, that rate may be rising. For example: in 2004 in Singapore (which has an 18% Muslim population) many feared that the divorce rate among Muslims had risen too high: 9 out of every 1,000 marriages, a ratio 3 times higher than Malaysia, and 5 times higher than Indonesia.
The main causes in 2004 (2003) were:
- Extramarital affairs - 27% (29%)
- Family strains - 18% (11%)
- Emotional/physical abuse - 17% (10%)
- Mid-life crisis - 13% (not in 2003 survey)
- Addictions, e.g. alcoholism and gambling - 6% (5%)
- Workaholism - 6% (5%)
According to this survey, men engaged in extra-marital affairs in 75% (55%) of cases; women in 25% (45%). In cases of family strain, women's families were the primary source of strain in 78%, compared to 22% of men's families.
Emotional and physical abuse were more evenly split, with women affected in 60% and men in 40% of cases. In 70% of workaholism-related divorces it was men who were the cause, and 30% women.
The 2004 survey found that 93% of divorce cases were petitioned by women, very few of which were contested.
53% of divorces were of marriages that had lasted 10 to 15 years, with 40% ending after 5 to 10 years. The first 5 years are relatively divorce-free, and if a marriage survives more than 20 years it is unlikely to end in divorce.
Regarding divorce settlements, as defined by this survey women obtained a better or considerably better settlement than men in 60% of cases. In 30% of cases the assets were split 50-50, and in only 10% of cases did men achieve better settlements (down from 24% the previous year). The 2004 report concluded that campaigns like that of Fathers 4 Justice must succeed in increasing the percentage of shared residence orders, in order for more equitable financial divisions to become the norm.
Who initiates divorce?
The National Center for Health Statistics reports that from 1975 to 1988, in families with children present, wives file for divorce in approximately 2/3 of the cases each year. In 1975, 71.4% of the cases were filed by women, and in 1988, 65% were filed by women.
In their study titled "Child Custody Policies and Divorce Rates in the