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Classification and coding process

Classification criteria

The legally registered relationship status classification has four levels and is used to classify a respondent's status with respect to their most recent legally registered relationship. The criterion used to place people into level 1 of the classification is whether they:

are currently married or in a civil union (not separated)

were previously married and are now either separated/dissolved/widowed or were previously in a civil union and are now either separated/dissolved/surviving partner*

have never been married and have never been in a civil union.

* This classification category (at level 1) is labelled 'separated/dissolved/widowed/surviving partner' for simplicity.

Levels 2 and 3 classify those who are married separately from those who are in a civil union. Level 2 classifies people who were previously married or in a civil union by distinguishing between their status – whether they are separated, dissolved, widowed/surviving civil union partner. Level 3 classifies different types of relationships that have ended, for example, 'separated (marriage)' or 'separated (civil union)' and distinguishes between those who are widowed and those who are a surviving civil union partner. At level 4, opposite-sex and same-sex options have been included where appropriate.

Classification

Legally registered relationship status is a hierarchical classification with four levels. Excluding residual categories, level 1 has three categories, level 2 has eight categories, level 3 has 16 categories, and level 4 has 32 categories.

This classification will also be used by Population Statistics for processing, coding, analysing and disseminating vital statistics, which has made inclusion of a number of extra categories necessary. These are identified with the words '(vital statistics use only)'.

The legally registered relationships status master version is an input classification only. Survey-specific aggregated versions can be used for both input and output.

Classification Legally Registered Relationship Status – Standard Classification 2008 – Master Version
Abbreviation LEGREGRELST08
Version V2.0
Effective date 14 September 2017

The full classification is available in the 'Available Files' section on the main page.

The residual categories are defined in Glossary.

Coding process

Legally registered relationship status classifies people with respect to their legally registered relationship (irrespective of their living arrangements). The coding process is:

  • People who are married or in a civil union and are not separated are coded to 'married/civil union (not separated)' at level 1 and 'married (not separated)' or 'civil union (not separated)' at levels 2 and 3.
  • People who have had their marriage or civil union dissolved and have not entered into another legally registered relationship are coded to 'separated/dissolved/widowed/surviving partner' at level 1, 'dissolved' at level 2 and 'dissolved (marriage)' or 'dissolved (civil union)' at level 3.
  • People who are legally separated from their spouse or civil union partner are coded to 'separated/dissolved/widowed/surviving partner' at level 1, 'separated' at level 2, and 'separated (marriage)' or 'separated (civil union)' at level 3.
  • People who are living apart from their spouse or civil union partner, and intend to do so permanently, are coded to 'separated/dissolved/widowed/surviving partner' at level 1, 'separated' at level 2 and 'separated (marriage)' or 'separated (civil union)' at level 3.
  • People who have not entered into another legally registered relationship since the death of their spouse or civil union partner are coded to 'separated/dissolved/widowed/surviving partner' at level 1, 'widowed/surviving civil union partner' at level 2 and 'widowed' or 'surviving civil union partner' at level 3.
  • People who have never entered into a legal relationship are coded to 'never married and never in a civil union' at every level of the classification.
  • Information on opposite-sex and same-sex marriage and civil unions is coded at level 4.

Legally registered relationship status cannot be derived (respondents must be asked directly for their legally registered relationship status).

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