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Germany

After Divorce Trend, More German Couples Stay Married

Divorce is down ever so slightly, reflecting a trend over the last few years. Couples also stay together longer before severing the knot.

Symbolic picture of a wedding photograph torn in two with two gold wedding bands on top

Nearly half of all divorces in Germanyinvolve children still living at home

Marriage in Germany is becoming somewhat more stabile. Last year the number of divorces dropped two percent from 2006, according to the Federal Statistics Office in Wiesbaden. In 2007, 187,100 couples ended their marriages.

And even when couples did divorce, their marriages lasted longer than previously. The average marriage lasted nearly 14 years in 2007, longer than in 1990 when couples stayed together for just over 11 years, signaling a longer term trend.

The earlier trend of rising divorce rates seems to have halted. From 1992 to 2003 the number of break-ups a year had climbed steadily from 135,000 to 214,000. After Germany was reunified in 1990, the former East Germans experienced a very low number of divorces, but caught up with those in the West by 1997. Only in 2004 did the trend begin to reverse itself and the number of divorces declined.

As in many other countries, it is usually the wife who initiates divorce proceedings. Last year, 55 percent or 103,100 women filed for divorce, whereas only 36 percent of their husbands took the initiative. In the remaining cases, both partners filed for divorce together.

But even before the marriage formally ends, nearly 85 percent of all couples have already been living separately for at least one year. Only in two percent of all cases were couples still living together when they formally divorced.

Nearly half of all divorces involved minor children under the age of 18 still living at home. The number of children affected by divorce has also gone down by 2.5 percent from 148,600 in 2006 to 145,000 last year.

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