Marriage and divorce

Concepts and definitions
A.
Marriage (para. 57.)
B.
Divorce (para. 57.)
C.
Annulment (para. 57.)
D.
Separation, judicial (para. 57.)
E.

Marital Status (paras. 168.- 174.)

F.

Marital Status (paras. 2.96.- 2.103.)

 

A. Marriage (para. 57.)

Is the act, ceremony or process by which the legal relationship of husband and wife is constituted. The legality of the union may be established by civil, religious or other means as recognized by the laws of each country.

B. Divorce (para. 57.)

Is a final legal dissolution of a marriage, that is, that separation of husband and wife which confers on the parties the right to remarriage under civil, religious and/or other provisions, according to the laws of each country.

C. Annulment (para. 57.)

Is the invalidation or voiding of a marriage by a competent authority, according to the laws of each country, which confers on the parties the status of never having been married to each other.

D. Separation, judicial (para. 57.)

Is the disunion of married persons, according to the laws of each country, without conferring on the parties the right to remarry.

E. Marital Status (paras. 168.- 174.)

According to the Principles and Recommendations for Vital Statistics Systems, marital status is the status of individuals with respect to the marriage laws or customs of the country. It is recommended that the following categories of marital status be identified:

  (a)
single (never married);
  (b) lawfully married;
  (c) religious married, consensual union and customary union;
  (d) widowed and not remarried;
  (e) divorced and not remarried;
  (f) married but legally separated.

Modifications of this classification which may need to be made to meet the special situations existing in some cultures must be based on first-hand knowledge of the local environment and customs. It should be mentioned, however, that in all cultures marital statuses ranging from legal to consensual unions are found in varying degrees and within that range unions may be monogamous or polygamous. The extent to which various types of unions are socially acceptable will determine the modifications which will be required to meet national needs. For example, in countries which permit polygamy it may be desirable to include a question on number of current wives. Modifications should be made within the framework of the basic classification in order to maintain international comparability as much as possible.

F. Marital Status (paras. 2.96.- 2.103.)

According to the Principles and Recommendations for Population and Housing Censuses, marital status is the personal status of each individual in relation to the marriage laws or customs of the country. The categories of marital status to be identified are the following:

  (a)
single, in other words, never married;
  (b) married;
  (c) widowed and not remarried;
  (d) divorced and not remarried;
  (e) married but separated.

In some countries, category (b) may require a subcategory of persons who are contractually married but not yet living as man and wife. In all countries, category (e) should comprise both the legally and the de facto separated, these may be shown as separate subcategories. Regardless of the fact that couples who are separated may be considered to be still married (because they are not free to remarry), neither of the subcategories of (e) should be included in category (b).

The marital status categories described above do not provide complete information on the range of de facto unions of varying degrees of stability, which may be common in some countries; nor do they adequately describe the prevalence of formal marriage combined with relatively stable de facto unions outside marriage. Information on these relationships is very useful in studies of fertility but it is not possible to provide an international recommendation on this matter because of the different circumstances prevailing among countries. It is suggested, however, that countries wishing to investigate these relationships should consider the possibility of collecting separate data for each person on formal marital unions, on de facto unions and on the duration of each type of union.

 

United Nations Statistics Division - Demographic and Social Statistics