Fewer weddings, more marital break-ups in 2015

Fewer people tied the knot in Singapore last year compared with 2014, but more couples got divorced.

A report by the Department of Statistics (SingStat) released yesterday showed that 28,322 couples wed last year, slightly down from a five-decade high of 28,407.

However there were 7,522 divorces and annulments, a 2.9 per cent rise from 2014 and the third highest annual figure on record.

While there were fewer Muslim divorces and fewer non-Muslim annulments, overall marital dissolutions rose because of more non-Muslim divorces - 5,450 last year, a 5.4 per cent increase from 2014.

The top reasons among non-Muslims for splitting up were unreasonable behaviour (53.7 per cent), and having lived apart or separated for three years or more (42.6 per cent).

However, lawyers say that official data may not reflect reality and that between a third and half of the divorces they handle involve a cheating spouse.

Few couples cite adultery as grounds for divorce as that requires evidence of an affair. It can also be costly to hire someone to gather such evidence, and the third party must be named in divorce papers.

Most of these couples cite unreasonable behaviour instead.

SingStat also said that between 2005 and last year, there was a "significant shift" towards older couples divorcing.

National University of Singapore sociologist Paulin Straughan said this is probably a natural result of people marrying later. She added that the rise in divorces is "no cause for alarm" as the general divorce rate - the number of divorces and annulments for every 1,000 married residents aged 20 and above - has been stable in the past decade.

About 3,460 couples who divorced last year had at least one dependent child under the age of 18