The Office for National Statistics has today released the statistics for divorces in England and Wales in 2016.

The main points from the bulletin are:

  • There were 106,959 divorces of opposite-sex couples in 2016, an increase of 5.8% compared with 2015.
  • There were 112 divorces of same-sex couples in 2016 of which 78% relate to female couples.
  • In 2016, there were 8.9 divorces of opposite-sex couples per 1,000 married men and women aged 16 and over (divorce rates), an increase of 4.7% since 2015; however, divorce rates in 2016 are over 20% lower than the recent peak in divorce rate in 2003 and 2004.
  • The divorce rate for opposite-sex couples was highest among men aged 45 to 49 and women in their thirties (ages 30 to 39).
  • Overall, divorce rates in 2016 are lower than in 2014
  • The median duration of marriage among divorcing opposite-sex couples was 12 years.

Unreasonable behaviour remains the most common ground on which opposite-sex couples divorce. 36% of all husbands and 51% of all wives petitioned for divorce on these grounds. Unreasonable behaviour is also the most common ground for divorce amongst same-sex couples at 96% of divorces among men and 93% of divorces among women. Unreasonable behaviour can include one party having a sexual relationship with someone else given that adultery cannot take place between two people of the same sex.

Whilst the statistics demonstrate an increase in the number of divorces since 2015, there has been a general decrease in divorce rates since 2003. This corresponds with the marriage population declining and an upward trend in the number of couples cohabiting.

Please click here for a link to the statistical bulletin.

Source: ONS Statistics Bulletin Divorces in England and Wales: 2016

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