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Divorce fact sheet- Where India stands in the World



Acknowledging India’s respect for its culture and social ethics, one can guess that India enjoys a lowest divorce rate. But it is more surprising to know that the divorce rate in India ranks lowest among all the countries of the world. Statistics shows that only 1 out of 100 Indian marriages end up to a divorce which is quite low in comparison to America’s 50% of marriages turning into breakups. The rate of divorce in India was even low in the previous decade, where only 7.40 marriages out of 1,000 marriages were annulled. The divorce rate in Indian villages is even lower in caparison to urban India. 

In Hindu religion marriage is sacrament and not a contract, hence divorce was not recognised before the codification of the Hindu Marriage Act in 1955. With the codification of this law, men and women both are equally eligible to seek divorce. Hindus, Buddhists, Sikhs, and Jains are governed by the Hindu Marriage Act 1955, Christians are governed by The Divorce Act 1869, Parsis by the Parsi Marriage and Divorce Act 1936, Muslims by the Dissolution of Muslim Marriages Act 1939 and Inter-religious marriages are governed by The Special Marriage Act 1954.

            Conditions are laid down to perform a marriage between a man and woman by these laws. Based on these a marriage is validated, if not it is termed as void marriage or voidable marriage at the option of either of the spouse. Here upon filing a petition by any one spouse before the Court of law a decree of nullity is passed declaring the marriage as null and void.

            Divorce can be applied only after one year of marriage. But the numbers seemed to be increasing at alrming rate.Here, Marriages need not be registered and only Divorce are registered. So its hard to infer the percentage of divorce as percentage of marriage. But the number of divorce can be counted.

          One of the major reason for low rate of divorce in India is a Arrange marriage. Arranged marriages have been the tradition in Indian society for centuries. Even today an overwhelming majority of Indians in India have their marriages planned by their parents and other respected family-members. Arranged matches were made after taking into account factors such as age, height, personal values and tastes, the backgrounds of their families (wealth, social standing) and their castes and the astrological compatibility of the couples horoscopes.

            In general both the parents and the young people feel that since they were older and wiser than their progeny, they would be able to find a suitable match for their children with more prudence than the latter. Although most marriages are arranged, some couples in India opt for selecting their partners by themselves, based on their direct interaction with those partners. This is often termed as "love marriage" in India. Love marriages tend to be more common in the urban areas. Among the overseas Indians, many marriages are still arranged with the assistance of the parents. Even the so called love marriages in India generally happen with the approval of the parents, although their blessing may sometimes be reluctant.

            In India, the marriage is thought to be for life, and the divorce rate is as such extremely low. 

Divorce Rate in Different Countries

     United States

              In 2008, 46% of all marriages involve a remarriage for one or both spouses. It is estimated that 40% of all marriages have ended in divorce as of 2008. It is frequently reported that the divorce rate in America is 50%. This data is not accurately correct, however, it is reasonably close to actual. The Americans for Divorce Reform estimates that "Probably, 40 or possibly even 50 percent of marriages will end in divorce if current trends continue.", which is actually a projection.

    United Kingdom

            The number of divorces granted in the UK in 1961 was 27,000. This doubled to 56,000 by 1969, and doubled to 125,000 divorces by 1972. The number in 2002 was 160,000. The increase in divorces has been largely attributed to the introduction of the Divorce Reform Act of 1969.

            The rate of divorce in the United Kingdom has been dropping in recent years. In 2007 the divorce rate in England and Wales was recorded at 11.9 people per every 1000 of the married population. This is the lowest divorce rate recorded since 1981.


            In 2000, Belgium had the highest divorce rate at 2.9 per 1,000 people, and Italy and the Republic of Ireland the lowest rate at 0.7. One study estimated that legal reforms accounted for about 20 percent of the increase in divorce rates in Europe between 1960 and 2002.


          1897 census indicated that just one man in a thousand was divorced, and there were two divorcees for a thousand of the female population. In 1913 in all of the Russian Empire totalling 98.5 mln Russian Orthodox Christians there were only 3791 divorces  equating to approximately 0.0038 % of the population. 

The grounds for divorce were very limited: a proven adultery of a spouse; the inability to conceive; a judicial sentence depriving of the status privileges; or an exile to Siberia and deprivation of all rights and benefits; absence of a spouse for 5 years and more. Witness testimony and the proof of existence of illegitimate children were the leading evidence in divorce proceedings.

No-fault divorce has been the main culprit however it has prooven good for many adults, writes Isabel Sawhill in her book ‘Generation Unbound’. Because they can walk away, unhappy partners have more power to demand change. Spousal suicide, domestic violence and the murder of husbands by wives have all fallen as a result. But “children have rights, too,” and the instability of a growing number of families harms them in many ways.


            It is reported that the rapidly rising divorce rate in China is due to mounting social pressures caused by the country’s rapid economic growth and an overall decline in fertility rates across the world’s most populous nation.

The recent Times report states that nearly, 850,000 Chinese couples had applied for a divorce or separation within the first six months of 2010. That figure translates to a staggering 4,600 divorce cases per day. The numbers were up over 10% compared to the same period last year. A report by the Chinese Ministry of Civil Affairs this year also showed that there was an annual increase of nearly 8% in the number of divorces from 2005 to 2009, with 2.5 million couples obtaining divorces in 2009. Annual statistical reports show that the number of couples going to court for a divorce has been on the rise continuously since 2003 when after the revised and simplified Regulation on Marriage Registration laws took effect in China.

It was also noted that family cohesion decreases when couples living far away from home are cut-off from parental advice and guidance. China’s “one-child” family planning policy and resultant childlessness in many homes could also be another cause of divorce, as exemplified by the numbers in urban areas like Shanghai, where a decreasing fertility rate has been accompanied by an equally increasing divorce rate. That more Chinese couples now have higher incomes, more freedom and more money to split up are more factors contributing to the rising divorce rate.

World wide Divorce Rate

World Divorce Rate
World Divorce Rate

Worldwide Divorce Rates – Top 25 
Countries with Highest Divorce Rates per Capita

  1. Belarus 68%
  2. Russian Federation 65%
  3. Sweden 64%
  4. Latvia 63%
  5. Ukraine 63%
  6. Czech Republic 61%
  7. Belgium 56%
  8. Finland 56%
  9. Lithuania 55%
  10. United Kingdom 53%
  11. Moldova 52%
  12. United States 49%
  13. Hungary 46%
  14. Canada 45%
  15. Norway 43%
  16. France 43%
  17. Germany 41% 
  18. Netherlands 41%
  19. Switzerland 40%
  20. Iceland 39%
  21. Kazakhstan 39%
  22.  Brazil 2.6%
  23. Italy 2.7%
  24. China 2.2%
  25. India 1%

Many current divorce statistics studies estimate that the divorce rate in the United States is hovering right around 50%, with nearly half of all marriages ending in divorce. In an international study of countries with the highest divorce rates, the U.S. takes its spot at Number 12 with a 49% divorce rate, and just about as close to 50% as you can get. Even though many sources seem to agree on the half-and-half rate of marriage and divorce in this country, there is growing debate about the accuracy of the numbers. Some researchers have suggested the 50% number is just plain wrong and based on flawed math.

The 50% figure for the U.S. has most often been calculated using a very simple method of comparing the total number of marriages to the total number of divorces per 1000 people in any given year. The math is pretty straightforward. If there were 10 marriages and 5 divorces occurring within the 1000 people sampled, the number of divorces equals half the number of the marriages, or 50%. Looking at the numbers this way suggests that half of the 10 marriages that year will end in divorce. But that is not really the case.

Perhaps none of the 10 marriages that year ended in divorce, and all of them lasted several years instead. There were 5 divorces accounted for, but the divorcing couples could have been married for several years prior to splitting up. The couples who got married were not the same couples who got divorced. Yes, there were 10 marriages and 5 divorces in our example year, and you could interpret that as 50% failure, but it is not really accurate. A more accurate percentage would be derived if you knew exactly how many people who ever got married eventually got divorced. You can’t just take the raw totals from one year and get meaningful results because people of different ages and generations have different rates of divorce. Income and education also affect the divorce rate, as people with higher education have higher incomes and lower divorce rates than those without. The same holds true for married couples with children, they have a different and lower rate of divorce than couples without children.

Looking at how many aging marriages eventually result in divorce, as opposed to looking only at same-year totals, yields a figure of about 40% as the overall divorce rate for the United States. People belonging to certain age and demographic groups probably do have a divorce rate of nearly 50%, but there are other groups that definitely do not. For example, studies have shown that marriages after 1975 have a better chance of lasting a decade than marriages prior to 1975. In the case of education, college graduates who got married between 1990 and 1995 have been shown to have a divorce rate of just over 15%. The conclusion is that there are various differing divorce rates for different groups of people within the total population, and most of them are not nearly as high as 50%.

Top  Reasons Couples Divorce

Although there can always be a difference of opinion as to reasons of breaking of marriage but research and data shows that worldwide following are the major reculprit for Divorce. It can be a single reason as well as a combination of many of them.

  1. Married too fast​
  2. Decided to Divorce- What about Kids
    Decided to Divorce- What about Kids
    Extramarital Affairs
  3. Sexual problems
  4. Money and financial issues
  5. Alcohol and drugs
  6. Lack of Communication
  7. Lack of romance
  8. Incompatibility
  9. Differences in background
  10. Unhappiness
  11. Spouse’s personal habits
  12. Addiction to sex
  13. Age
  14. Physical or/and Mental Abuse
  15. Parenting Style Differences

     Related Article-  

                              Divorced women face higher risk of heart attacks, even if they remarry READ MORE…


     Links to Family laws in India at LatestLaws.in-



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