According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, divorce rates in Australia are at an all-time high, with Queensland at the top of the scale.
In the first data release since COVID-19, Queensland saw an increase of over 7,000 divorce applications lodged – though the ABS has warned this figure could be much higher as the courts handle a backlog of applications.
There were 2.6 divorces per 1,000 people in Queensland in 2021, up from 2.3 in 2019 and 2020.
According to Bowen Hills based Family Lawyer Jennifer Hetherington, the increase was inevitable.
“We witnessed very high divorce stress over the past few years but also a tendency to ‘shelter in place’ due to uncertainty about Covid restrictions, the housing crisis and financial uncertainty,” she says.
“Now that some of these factors are easing, we can absolutely predict an upswing in divorce applications.”
2021 Census data also found there were more than 400,000 people in Queensland who were divorced at the time of the Census, compared to 354,000 in the 2016 Census.
Southport on the Gold Coast had the largest number of divorcees, followed by Surfers Paradise, Caboolture, Buderim, Labrador and Maroochydore.
While Queensland has the largest number of divorce rates, New South Wales saw the biggest increase with 17,126 divorces in 2021, up from 14,023 in 2020 and 14,197 in 2019.
Australia wide, divorce rates are as high as they were in 2011-12, following the global financial crisis. And given the backlog of applications, it’s possible the current stats will increase much more in 2022. Most of the divorces granted in 2021 came from people who separated prior to COVID-19 in 2020.
So why are Queensland figures so high? According to the latest Australian government's Household Income and Labour Dynamics in Australia (HILDA) report, which surveys about 17,000 people every year, Queensland women felt more stressed than those in other states.
It's little wonder though, given that in the past few years Queensland has not only experienced COVID-19 lockdowns, home schooling and work from home, but also bushfires, floods and drought.
Brisbane Divorce Coach Marg Doherty says that while divorce is stressful enough on its own, it usually follows a prolonged stressful period of relationship breakdown.
“It’s not just the stress of breaking up right now,” she says.
“The emotional toll of the last few years is showing, and divorces have the potential to be more distressing than in pre-covid times.”
Remember, it’s important to look after yourself during this tough time and to seek help when you need it.