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Civil marriages surge in popularity in Northern Ireland

Author: Admin
Date: 2nd August 2012

Almost one-third of all marriages in Northern Ireland were celebrated by a civil ceremony, according to new figures from the Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency (NISRA).

In 2011, 2,732 out of 8,366 marriages were by civil ceremony.

Meanwhile, only 89 civil partnerships between same-sex couples took place last year compared with 116 in 2010.  

The popularity of civil marriage in Northern Ireland has been increasing over the years. Civil marriages accounted for only 14pc of marriages in 1990 .   

The figures also showed a 10pc decrease in the number of divorces in Northern Ireland last year, while there were three percent more marriages.

In 2011, there were 2,343 divorces granted. In addition, the number of divorces granted in 2011 is around the 20 year average of 2,389.

The new figures also showed that there were 8,366 marriages registered in 2011.

The Agency pointed out that just prior to the 2007-08 crash, divorces were “at an all-time high”.  In 2007, there were 2,913 divorces and there were 2,773 divorces in 2008.  

“Since then, with the exception of 2010, the number of divorces has been decreasing,” the Agency said in a press release.   

It suggested that financial reasons might be behind the drop in the number of divorces.

It speculated that the fact that many couples were now living in houses currently in negative equity, meant that couples were now unable to afford two houses following a divorce.

In 2011, 1,984 of the divorces granted were first marriages for both partners, accounting for 85pc of all divorces.  

A further 266 divorces (11pc) were attributed to couples where only one partner had been previously married; the remaining 93 divorces (4pc) were to couples where both partners had been previously married.  

In 2011, the average length of a marriage ending in divorce was 18 years. Over the last 20 years, there has been a general increase in the length of marriages that end in divorce.  

In 2011, over half (56pc) of all couples who divorced had at least one child under the age of 18 at the time the divorce petition was lodged.

In total just over 4,000 children/stepchildren were affected by divorce in Northern Ireland in 2011. Of these, 2,400 were under 18 years of age at the time of the divorce and 1,600 were aged 18 and over.

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