Increase in marriages and divorces
A jump in the number of marriages over the last year has been matched by a dramatic rise in divorces.
During 2010 a total of 8,156 marriages were registered, an increase on the 7,931 recorded in 2009. In the same year, however, there were 2,600 divorces, an increase on the 2009 figure of 2,176 divorces.
But the figures fall short of the record highs for both sets of statistics. The highest number of marriages ever recorded in Northern Ireland was in 1970 which saw 12,300 ceremonies. The record high of 2,913 divorces was recorded in 2007.
The figures also show the increasing age of people getting married over the last 20 years. The average age at marriage for brides in 2010 was 32, compared to 26 in 1990. The average age for grooms in 2010 was 34, compared to 28 in 1990.
In 2010 there were just over 100 same-sex civil partnerships registered. Last year saw the first year where female civil partnerships outnumbered male civil partnerships. The 116 registered civil partnerships included 62 between women.
The latest data was released by the Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency (NISRA).
The Civil Partnership Act came into force in late 2005, enabling same-sex couples to obtain legal recognition of their relationship and between December 2005 and the end of 2010, 537 civil partnerships have been registered in Northern Ireland.
The 2010 figure of 116 civil partnerships is an increase from the 2009 figure of 96. It is the first time in Northern Ireland more female than male civil partnerships were formed
A study of the latest figures for marriages and divorces in 2010 also revealed that a total of 5,642 marriages (69%) were religious marriages and the remaining 2,514 (31%) were civil marriages.
Saturday September 4 was the most popular day to get married last year, with 112 couples getting married on that date, while the average duration of marriage ending in divorce in 2010 was 18.1 years. Non-cohabitation remains the most frequently recorded reason for divorce (73%), followed by behaviour (14%) and combined grounds (11%).