Divorce Facts – Did you know?


The office for National Statistics released a statistical bulletin on divorces in England and Wales for 2011 at the end of last year. The key findings were that:

Divorce Facts 2011
  • The number of divorces in England and Wales in 2011 was 117,558, which was a decrease of 1.7% on 2010.
  • The number of divorces in 2011 was the highest amongst men and women aged 40-44.
  • It is estimated that 42% of marriages now end in divorce, a decrease of 3% since 2005.

There has been a general decline in divorces since 2003, which is consistent with the decline in the number of marriages, which may be due to the increasing number of couples choosing to cohabit.

It is estimated that the percentage of marriages ending in divorce is now 42% and around half of these divorces occur in the first 10 years of marriage. This is a decrease of 3% from 2005 and it may be related to the facts that the age of persons when entering into a first marriage has been increasing and the increase in cohabitation, with cohabitation often being a precursor to marriage.

Both male and female divorce rates have generally decreased with the exception of 2010, where rates increased. It is thought that the increase in 2010 could be associated with the recession. Two opposing theories have been put forward relating to the effect of an economic downturn on the numbers of marriages dissolving.

The first theory says that recession could contribute to a rise in partnership breakups because of an increase in financial pressures and the effect of unemployment. Alternatively, though, another theory suggests that partnerships would be less likely to breakup during difficult financial times because there may be an increase feeling of family solidarity and on a more practical level, there may be a need to postpone the sharing of matrimonial resources, until the housing market improves.

The average marriage is expected to last for 32 years, but the medium duration of marriages ending in divorce in 2011 was 11.5 years.

The grounds for divorce in 2011 - 66% of divorces were granted to the wife and in 54% of those instances, the divorce was granted on the basis that the husband’s behaviour was the fact proven. Of divorces granted to husbands, the most common facts proven were the wife’s behaviour (36% of cases) and 2 years separation with consent (32% of cases).

Whilst divorces are decreasing, the number of civil partnership dissolution increased in 2011. However, this is because this type of partnership is relatively new and the numbers of people entering into civil partnerships is still increasing.

If you are considering entering into a divorce and need legal aid you should be aware of the April 2013 deadline when legal aid for divorce cases will be withdrawn unless domestic violence is a factor.

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