'Til death do us part? One in five don't mean it

INCREASINGLY we hear the sanctity of marriage is deteriorating and here just might be the proof: one in five Australians getting married or committing to a de facto relationship do not expect it to last 'til death do us part'.

The finding comes from an independent survey of more than 2000 Australian couples in committed relationships, commissioned by Slater and Gordon family lawyers.

Queensland couples are among the country's most optimistic with 82 per cent believing their unions would last forever.

However across the border in NSW they were much more skeptical with only 78 per cent expecting their commitment to last.

Senior Queensland family lawyer Mona Emera said the numbers weren't surprising, considering there are around 50,000 divorces in Australia every year.

"While the intention for their union to last is certainly strong at the beginning, increasingly people are accepting that there are a number of reasons their relationship may not last," she said. 

Nationally the research found the younger the respondents were, the more likely they were to think they would eventually separate from their partner.

"Around one third or 32 per cent of Australians aged 25 to 34 said they went into a serious relationship not expecting it to last, but only 10 per cent of over 55s felt the same way," said Ms Emera.

"This might reflect a changing landscape or it might just be that younger generations have a more pessimistic outlook.

"Obviously the answer to that would require more in-depth, longitudinal research," Ms Emera said.

South Australians were the most optimistic about the long-term prospects of their relationships with 83 per cent of respondents saying they made a commitment to their partner believing they would stay together forever.

In Victoria, 81 per cent said they entered into their union expecting it to last. At 76 per cent, Western Australian couples were the least likely to believe their relationship 

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