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12 December 2016

Latest official figures show divorce rate continues to fall

The number of people divorcing in England and Wales decreased by 3.1 per cent in 2014, according to the latest statistical bulletin published today (5 December 2016) from the Office for National Statistics (ONS), reports Family Law.

The Office of National Statistics’ latest figures on divorce in England and Wales show there were 111,169 divorces in England and Wales in 2014, a drop of 3.1% compared to 2013. The divorce rate has also fallen by 5.3% from 2013 to 2014, to 9.3 divorces per thousand men and women.
Analysis of the 2014 figures shows that roughly 60% of all divorces in England and Wales cite either adultery or unreasonable behaviour (66,588).

Nicola Haines, Vital Statistics Outputs Branch, Office for National Statistics, commented:
'Compared with 2004, divorce rates in 2014 were lower for all age groups except women aged 55 and over. Likely factors include increased cohabiting and increasing age at first marriage. Previous research indicates a higher risk of divorce among those marrying at younger ages, whilst cohabitation may be reducing the number of weaker relationships progressing to marriage.'

Responding to the data, Nigel Shepherd, National Chair of campaigning family law organisation Resolution, said:

'The latest figures from the Office of National Statistics show that both divorce numbers and the divorce rate have fallen. As the ONS highlight, this could be due to both the rise in the number of cohabiting couples, and the reduction in the number of weaker relationships progressing to marriage as a result.

For those 111,169 of couples that did divorce however, we know that nearly two-thirds will have apportioned blame – whether they wanted to or not. At Resolution, we believe in a better way for separating couples that allows them to divorce without blame, conflict or argument. Over 90% of our members support a move to No Fault Divorce, and last week 150 family lawyers gathered in Parliament to meet with MPs and lobby for change.

We are pleased with the positive reception our calls for no fault divorce received among MPs and we will continue our call for this much required, widely supported legislative change.

Other statistics recently released shows that the number of cohabiting couples has also risen - this means it is even more important that they have some basic rights under the law should they separate.'

The ONS statistical bulletin on 2014 divorce rates is available to download here.