In South Africa Civil Marriages are administered through the Marriage Act, 1961 (Act No. 25 of 1961) as amended, and its associated regulations. Customary marriages are governed by the Recognition of Customary Marriages Act, 1998 (Act No. 120 of 1998) which came into effect on 15 November 2000. Civil unions (relationships between same-sex couples that are legally recognized by a state authority) are covered by the Civil Union Act, 2006 (Act No. 17 of 2006) which came into operation on 30 November 2006.
The South African Department of Home Affairs is responsible for the administration of marriages in South Africa, under these laws. After the ceremony of a marriage or a civil union, the marriage officer submits the data to the nearest office of the Department of Home Affairs (DHS), where the marriage / civil union details for citizens and permanent residents are recorded in the National Population Register (NPR). Statistics South Africa obtains data on marriages and civil unions from DHA through the State Information Technology Agency (SITA) for this dataset.
NOTE: In customary marriages, the two spouses and their witnesses present themselves at a DHA office in order to register a customary marriage. Therefore the province of registration is not necessarily the province of the place of usual residence of the couple since the registration of the marriage can take place in any DHA office.
The dissolution of registered marriages and civil unions is governed by the Divorce Act, 1979 as amended, and its associated regulations (Act No.70 of 1979) and the Jurisdiction of Regional Courts Amendment Act, 2008 (Act No. 32 of 2008) as amended which came into effect on 9 August 2010. The South African Department of Justice and Constitutional Development (DJCD) is responsible for managing divorces under these Acts. Statistics South Africa obtains the divorce data from the DJCD for this dataset.
NOTE: The data includes divorce applications that were concluded in 2018, that is, that were finalised and issued with decrees of divorce in 2018 by DJCD.
Kind of Data
Unit of Analysis
v1: Edited, anonymised dataset for public distribution
Version 1 of the Marriages and Divorces 2018 dataset was downloaded from the Statistics South Africa website on the 5 August 2020
Marriage data covers province of registration, date and type of marriage (religious or civil) and age (and age difference) and status (e.g. single/widow/divorcee) of marital couple.
Divorce data includes individual level data: Age, gender and population group, status, and occupation and number of children. Data is also collected on the marriage (date, number, type and duration, and matrimonial property system) and the divorce (date of separation and date of divorce).
The data has national coverage.
The lowest level of geographic aggregation covered by the data is province
The data covers all civil marriages that were recoreded by the Department of Home Affairs and all divorce applications that were granted by the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development in 2018 in South Africa.
Producers and sponsors
Statistics South Africa
Department of Home Affairs
Government of South Africa
Department of Justice and Constitutional Development
Government of South Africa
Dates of Data Collection
Data Collection Mode
Data Collection Notes
The marriage data is provided to Statistics South Africa by the South African Department of Home Affairs (DHA) from their marriage registration database based on registration forms.
The divorce data is obtained by Statistic South Africa from the South African Department of Justice and Constitutional Development from administrative records on divorces granted for civil marriages by its divorce courts.
Geography is problematic in this dataset as not all the data files have geographic data. The Civil Marriages and Civil Unions data files include a Province of Registration variable but the Customary Marriages data file does not. There is also no geographical data in the Divorces file. As this data file includes divorce data from only a subset of divorce courts, this lack of geographical information compromises its usability.
Public access data for use under a Creative Commons CC-BY (Attribution-only) License
Statistics South Africa. Marriages and Divorces 2018 [dataset]. Version 1. Pretoria: Statistics South Africa [producer], 2020. Cape Town: DataFirst [distributor], 2020. DOI: https://doi.org/10.25828/h9vs-0d26