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Latest Divorce Statistics In England And Wales

Are you currently thinking about getting a divorce? We understand this can be a very sad, stressful and lonely time, and want you to know that you’re not alone.

Specialising in Cheshire divorce law; we are always here if you have any questions about family law and divorce help, but also thought we’d share some of the latest divorce statistics to remind you that you’re not the only one feeling this way.

Are you currently thinking about getting a divorce? We understand this can be a very sad, stressful and lonely time, and want you to know that you’re not alone. We are always here if you have any questions about divorce and family law, but also thought we’d share some of the latest divorce statistics to remind you that you’re not the only one feeling this way. 

We have taken Divorces in England and Wales: 2017 information from the Office for National Statistics website. The release date of these divorce statistics was September 2018; with the next release planned for September-October 2019.

Read on for some annual divorce numbers and rates by duration of marriage, sex, age, previous marital status, to whom granted and the reason…

Divorce Statistics: Main Points

  • There were 101,669 divorces of opposite-sex couples in England and Wales in 2017; a decrease of 4.9% compared with 2016, but similar to the number seen in 2015 (101,055).
  • There were 338 divorces of same-sex couples in 2017, more than three times the number in 2016 (112 divorces); three-quarters (74%) of same-sex couples divorcing in 2017 were female.
  • In 2017, there were 8.4 divorces of opposite-sex couples per 1,000 married men and women aged 16 years and over (divorce rates), representing the lowest divorce rates since 1973 but a 5.6% decrease from 2016.
  • The divorce rate for opposite-sex couples was highest among men aged 45 to 49 years and women aged 40 to 44 years.
  • The average (median) duration of marriage at the time of divorce was 12.2 years for opposite-sex couples; this matches the high last seen in 1972.
  • The most common reason for opposite-sex couples divorcing was unreasonable behaviour, with 52% of wives and 37% of husbands petitioning on these grounds. It was the most common reason for same-sex couples divorcing too; accounting for 83% of divorces among women and 73% among men.
  • Divorce rates for opposite-sex couples in England and Wales are at their lowest level since 1973, which is around 40% lower than at their peak in 1993. However, among older people, rates are higher in 2017 than in 1993; perhaps due to the fact that we have an increasingly ageing population and people are getting married later in life.
  • In 2017, there were 338 divorces among same-sex couples in England and Wales – three times more than in the previous year, when there were 112. Almost three-quarters of these divorces were among female couples. Marriages of same-sex couples have only been possible in England and Wales since 29th March 2014.

Median Duration Of Marriage Among Divorcing Couples

The median duration of marriage (the mid-point of all duration) for divorces granted to opposite-sex couples in 2017 was 12.2 years, increasing slightly from 12.0 in 2016. The 2017 value matches the historical high of 12.2 years seen over 40 years ago in 1972.

There has been a very gradual increase in the median duration of marriages that end in divorce since 2009 when it was 11.4 years. Over the last 50 years, the median duration has remained relatively stable, fluctuating between 8.9 years and 12.2 years.

The median duration of marriage (the mid-point of all durations) for same-sex couples who divorced in 2017 was 3.5 years for men and 2.8 years for women. Although marriages of same-sex couples have only been possible in England and Wales since 29th March 2014, it was legal for same-sex couples to marry in certain other countries prior to this date, for example, the Netherlands. Divorces relating to marriages that took place overseas are included in these figures, provided the marriage was legally recognised in the UK and one of the parties had a permanent home in England and Wales.

The Percentage Of Marriages That End In Divorce

The percentage of marriages ending in divorce has generally increased for those marrying between the early 1970’s and the early 1990’s. 22% of marriages in 1970 had ended by the 15th wedding anniversary, whereas 33% of marriages in 1995 had ended after the same period of time.

For those marrying since 2000, there’s some evidence of decreases in the proportion of marriages ending in divorce. The proportion of men and women who had ever divorced has also declined over recent decades.

The cumulative percentages of marriages that end in divorce increase more rapidly in the first 10 years of marriage, than the 10 years after that. Once the 20th wedding anniversary is reached, the cumulative percentages increased less rapidly.

Divorce Support At Separ8

No matter what situation you’re in, our expert family law solicitors can help you to finalise your divorce and financial arrangements without any difficulty. Whether you just need help with the paperwork, or if you need full support and representation, we have a divorce package for you. 

Divorce doesn’t have to be difficult; contact us to start divorce proceedings, get a divorce quote, or book your free 30-minute first consultation call today.



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