The number of marriages and divorces in Northern Ireland last year has decreased, according to new statistics.
The number of marriages registered in Northern Ireland in 2009 was 7,900, a decrease on the 8,500 marriages registered in 2008. Last year 2,200 divorces were registered, a marked decrease on the 2008 figure of 2,800 divorces.
Civil marriages accounted for nearly one in three of all marriages; this proportion having doubled since 1989.
The annual statistics, released yesterday by the Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency, also show the average time married couples spent together before splitting was just under 18 years.
Couples are also waiting longer in Northern Ireland before getting married. The average age for the groom is now 33 compared with 28 in 1989. The average age of the bride is 31 compared with 26.
Figures released by the Office for National Statistics in January for England and Wales show a similar pattern with the number of divorces having fallen to its lowest rate for 29 years.