Divorce drops to lowest rate since German reunification

Divorce drops to lowest rate since German reunification

The number of married couples getting divorced has fallen to its lowest level in Germany since 1990 - while the number of marriages continues to wane.

129.000 couples got divorced in 2023

According to figures released by the Federal Statistical Office (Destatis), 2023 saw the lowest divorce rate in Germany since 1990.

Last year, 129.000 divorces were finalised in Germany, a 6,1 percent drop compared to the number of couples divorced in 2022. Between 2003 and 2023 - except for two years - the number of divorces in Germany has seen an annual drop of 39,7 percent.

Looking closer at the couples who did divorce in 2023, the average couple had been married for 14 years and nine months before they decided to part legally. Four out of five couples had separated for one year before they filed for divorce and almost half (48,8 percent) had one child, while 39,7 percent had two children and 11,5 percent had three or more.

Couples in Germany are waiting longer to get married

The recent divorce statistics are coupled with a long-term trend of declining marriages in Germany, which in 2023, fell to the second lowest level since 1950. 

Heterosexual couples in Germany are waiting longer to get married than they used to; for women in 2003, the average age for their first marriage was 28,8 years and for men, 31,8 years. By 2022, the average age had risen to 32,6 years and 35,1 years respectively.

According to a study by Emory University in 2014, which looked at 3.000 married couples, waiting three years into a relationship or longer reduces the chance of divorce by 50 percent.

Divorce law in reunified Germany

In 1955, East Germany reformed its divorce law to replace the “guilt principle” - that a partner at fault should be identified - with the idea of marriage breakdown as sufficient a cause for divorce. West Germany would follow in scrapping the “guilt principle” 22 years later in 1977, this is the law still applicable in today’s, reunified Germany.

With more relaxed divorce laws and greater economic independence for women, East German marriage and family law “made divorce easier and less costly [...] caused less economic deprivation and less stigmatisation,” according to the Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research. 

Thumb image credit: DimaBerlin /

Olivia Logan


Olivia Logan

Editor for Germany at IamExpat Media. Olivia first came to Germany in 2013 to work as an Au Pair. Since studying English Literature and German in Scotland, Freiburg and Berlin...

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