Divorces see the biggest rise in 50 years

Recently, The Office of National Statistics has released the statistics for relationships that dissolved in 2019.

The key 2019 statistics for heterosexual divorces:

• There were 108,421 divorces, from 2018’s total of 91,299. This is the largest annual percentage increase in the number of divorces since 1972 when The Divorce Reform Act 1969 was introduced to make it easier for couples to divorce.

• 42,274 divorces were during the first marriage.

• Divorces were on a petition by or granted to more women than men.

• Divorce was most common in men and women aged 45-49.

• The highest number of divorces granted for fact proven was for ‘unreasonable behavior’ granted in the favor of women.

• The divorce rate among couples was 8.9 divorces per 1,000 married men and women, an increase from 7.5 in 2018.

• The average (median) duration of marriage at the time of divorce was 12.3 years, a small decrease from 12.5 years in 2018.

There is less statistical data for same-sex divorces, due to same-sex marriages only being allowed since March 2014 and the first divorces taking place in 2015. However, the statistics do show that there has been a yearly increase of divorces and in 2019 there were 822 divorces, nearly double the number in 2018 of 428 (and they haven’t reached the 7-year itch!).

A similarity between heterosexual and same-sex divorces was that ‘unreasonable behavior’ was the most popular reason for divorce.

The increase in divorces has been attributed to the backlog of divorce petitions from 2017, processed by the Ministry of Justice in 2018, and some of which would have become decree absolutes (completed divorces) in 2019.

It will be very interesting to see the statistics for divorce in 2020/2021, as we will be able to see the impact the nationwide lockdown has had on relationships, which experts suspect will have caused an influx of divorce proceedings.

Should you require and further advice or assistance with regards to the above, please contact Rachael Wood, head of our MLP Law family department on 0161 926 9969.