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Germany sees divorce rate drop to lowest since 1990

June 27, 2024

The divorce rate in Germany has reached its lowest level since reunification in 1990, with fewer marriages also being recorded. Most divorces were filed with the consent of both spouses.

Ripped childrens drawing with wedding rings
In more than half of cases, the divorcing couple had at least one child that was not yet an adultImage: Ingrid Balabanova/Zoonar/picture alliance

Fewer married couples were divorced last year than for any year since German reunification in 1990, Germany's Federal Statistical Office (Destatis) announced on Thursday.

The figures align with a longer-term trend that has also seen the number of weddings gradually ebb.

How steep is the fall?

About 129,000 marriages were dissolved by court order in 2023, which meant that the number of divorces fell by 8,300 or 6.1% compared to the previous year.

In the long-term trend, barring for only a few exceptions, the number of divorces has fallen annually since 2003 (minus 39.7%).

Destatis noted that the figures showed the coronavirus pandemic did not influence this development.

At the same time, according to statistics, the number of marriages is also declining in the long term, falling to the second lowest level since 1950.

Just over half of the couples divorced in 2023 had children that were not yet adults.

How the figures break down

In 89.6% of divorces in 2023, the divorce petition was filed with the consent of the spouse.

In 6.2% of cases, the petition was filed by both spouses together, while one of the two did not consent in 4.2% of final break-ups.

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Out of the total divorced couples, 48.8% had one child, 39.7% had two and 11.5% had three or more. About 109,600 minors in all were affected by their parents' divorce in 2023.

Four in five divorces came after a previous separation period of one year, with those after three years of separation accounting for 18.9%.

On average, the couples divorced in 2023 had been married for 14 years and nine months.

Meanwhile, for 17% of all divorced couples, the split happened in the year of the silver wedding anniversary or later.

Same-sex divorce, separation

Meanwhile, same-sex couples bucked the trend when it came to divorce with an increase of 15%. However, Destatis noted this reflected an increasing shift from annulments to divorces.

Since the introduction of "marriage for all" in October 2017, civil partnerships can no longer be established in Germany.

Same-sex couples who live in a previously registered civil partnership cannot end it through divorce but through annulment.  In 2023, the number of annulments fell for the fourth year in a row.

Edited by Rana Taha

Richard Connor Reporting on stories from around the world, with a particular focus on Europe — especially Germany.