Decrease in divorce rate and children’s residence more often with the second ex-spouse
The annual number of divorces fell to under 20,000 in 2022: there were 19,347 cases in Belgium, which corresponds to a 13.1% decrease compared to the average number of divorces for the period 2018-2021. The total divorce rate is also down: now, just over one in three marriages ends in divorce.
On average, the marriage lasts 16.5 years for a first union and 11.8 years for a new one.
Among couples who have divorced in 2022, 61.8% have common children under 25. In 61.7% of cases, children of the divorced couple have their main residence with the second partner (i.e. the mother for heterosexual couples and the youngest partner for homosexual couples). In 18.2% of cases, the main residence of the siblings under 25 is with the first partner. This distribution follows the same pattern in the three regions, but is more pronounced in Brussels, where 76.4% of children live with the second ex-spouse. This proportion is slightly lower in the rest of the country (61.4% in Wallonia, 59.3% in the German-speaking Community and 59.2% in the Flemish Region).
|Source: Statbel (Directorate-general Statistics - Statistics Belgium)
Purpose and brief description
The statistic includes all divorces recorded in the civil register of Belgian municipalities. As a result, this statistic also includes all divorces for marriages not contracted in Belgium and not included in the statistics on marriages. The registration of a divorce is done at the municipality where the marriage was contracted. If the marriage was contracted abroad, the divorce is entered in the register of the municipality of Brussels, which explains the special situation of this municipality in this matter. The various tables cover: the evolution of the number of divorces per region and per province, the divorces of the year broken down by age group and by region, by previous civil status and by region, by duration of the dissolved marriage and by region. They also cover the evolution of the number of divorced persons who were married to a person of the same sex. But this last table has another source.
Timing of publication
Results available 8 months after the reference period.
Nationality of the first spouse: Country of the first spouse’s nationality.
Nationality of the second spouse: Country of the second spouse’s nationality.
Occupation of the first spouse: Occupation, function or main craft of the first spouse.
Occupation of the second spouse: Occupation, function or main craft of the second spouse.
Professional status of the first spouse: Professional situation of the first spouse (manager / self-employed / employee / worker / helper / without / unknown).
Professional status of the second spouse: Professional situation of the second spouse (manager / self-employed / employee / worker / helper / without / unknown).
Municipality of divorce: Municipality of the divorce registration, i.e. the municipality where the marriage was contracted or the city of Brussels for marriages contracted abroad.
Age of the first spouse at divorce: Age of the first spouse at divorce, expressed in completed years, calculated as the difference between the date of the divorce registration and the date of birth.
Age of the second spouse at divorce: Age of the second spouse at divorce, expressed in completed years, calculated as the difference between the date of the divorce registration and the date of birth.
Month of divorce: Month of divorce, from the date of the divorce registration in the civil register of the municipality.
In the framework of the administrative simplification and in application of the Law of 5 May 2014 on the establishment of the principle of the unique data collection (Only Once), the Directorate-General Statistics – Statistics Belgium decided in 2015 to no longer use the bulletins of the FPS Home Affairs to produce statistics on marriages and divorces, but to use data from the National Register (RNPP) for this purpose. As a result of this source change, the marriage and divorce forms could be abolished (Royal Decree of 19 February 2016). But it also brought about important changes in the statistic produced:
- Registration of the gender of spouses, allowing a distinction to be made between types of marriages and divorces;
- Processing in a statistic in law of the events that took place abroad concerning persons residing in Belgium;
- The identification of divorces that have been granted and registered in Belgium and that put an end to the marriages that have been contracted abroad gives a better approach to divorces.
2016 is the first year in which the RNPP is the exclusive source of the statistic. But using the RNPP also makes it possible to produce comprehensive statistics for 2015, as well as a large number of data for 2014, which makes a comparison with previous statistics on civil status possible.
In the case of divorces, the use of the RNPP makes it possible to identify those divorces that put an end to a marriage that was contracted abroad. The large majority of these marriages are registered in Brussels-Capital. In 2016, 3,666 divorces were granted in Belgium or abroad (15.5 % of the total), which put an end to the same number of marriages contracted abroad. They are therefore included in the calculation of the gross divorce rate, which has fallen slightly (2.1 ‰, for 2.2 ‰ in 2015); but they are excluded from the calculation of the total divorce rate.