The ONS recently released divorce statistics for England and Wales. These showed that:
There were 90,871 divorces of opposite-sex couples in 2018, a decrease of 10.6% compared with 2017 and the lowest number since 1971.
The divorce rate among opposite-sex couples fell to 7.5 divorces per 1,000 married men and women from 8.4 in 2017, the lowest rate since 1971; this will also have been affected by the backlog of work in divorce centres in 2018.
The average duration of marriage among opposite-sex couples who divorced in 2018 was 12.5 years.
There were 428 divorces of same-sex couples in 2018, increasing from 338 in 2017; of these, three-quarters were among female couples.
Unreasonable behaviour was the most common reason for opposite-sex couples divorcing in 2018, with 51.9% of wives and 36.8% of husbands petitioning on this ground; it was also the most common reason for same-sex couples divorcing.
Commenting on the statistics, Anna Woodhoo, Associate, Thomson Snell & Passmore LLP, says:
“These statistics show the ongoing trend of divorces based on unreasonable behaviour, with it continuing to be the most commonly used ground for divorce for both same-sex and opposite-sex couples. For now, the only option to divorce without blame is for couples to wait two years and then divorce by consent on the basis that they have been separated. For many people, the wait rules this option out as negative feelings can quickly escalate when a marriage dissolves.
“Reform to a new no-fault divorce system is eagerly awaited, following the announcement of the Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Bill in June 2019. If the Bill is successful couples will no longer have to prove that one of them is to blame for the breakdown of the relationship. It is hoped that the move away from the existing fault-based grounds will help reduce some of the animosity and pain that those couples would otherwise endure if having to find fault and blame when divorcing which can then impact how they resolve the associated arrangements for the children and financial matters.”