Number of divorces continues to fall

The Office for National Statistics (‘ONS’) has today published statistics for the number of divorces in England and Wales in 2015.

The main points are :

• There were 101,055 divorces of opposite sex couples in 2015, a decrease of 9.1% compared with 2014 and a decline of 34% from a recent peak in 2003.

• There were 22 divorces of same sex couples in 2015; marriages and divorces of same sex couples have only been possible in England and Wales since 29 March 2014.

• The male divorce rate for opposite sex couples in 2015 decreased to 8.5 men divorcing per 1,000 married males; 8.6% lower than 2014 and 37% lower than a recent peak in the divorce rate in 2004.

• The female divorce rate for opposite sex couples in 2015 decreased to 8.5 women divorcing per 1,000 married females; 8.6% lower than 2014 and 36% lower than 2004.

• The divorce rate among opposite sex couples was highest among both men and women aged 40 to 44.

The ONS commented: “The fall in divorces between 2003 and 2009 is consistent with a decline in the number of marriages over the same period; the decrease in marriages may be due to the increasing number of couples choosing to cohabit rather than enter into marriage. Following a small rise in the number of divorces in 2009, there was a period of relative stability between 2010 and 2012, divorces continued to decline between 2013 and 2015.”

The full ONS statistical bulletin can be found here.

Responding to today’s release of divorce statistics by the ONS, Nigel Shepherd, Chair of Resolution said:

“Today’s statistics show a fall in both divorce numbers and the divorce rate. There could be a number of reasons for this. One feature we have seen historically is that when families are struggling financially, many delay separating until they have more certainty over finances.

“The fall in divorce numbers correlates to a decline of marriages, and we know that cohabiting couples are the fastest growing family type in the UK, currently making up nearly 10% of the population. Today’s figures are further evidence that cohabiting couples are a major feature of our modern society: sadly our current laws are failing them.

“Rather than continuing to ignore the millions of cohabiting families in the UK, the new Government must reform the law to provide some basic legal protection and fair outcomes at a time of a cohabiting couple’s separation”.

Image: Arrow down, by Michael Pedersen, licensed under CC BY 2.0.