Divorce rates between heterosexual couples hit 45-year low

Divorce rates between heterosexual couples hit 45-year low

New figures released by the Office of National Statistics show the divorce rate for heterosexual couples in England and Wales has hit a 45-year low.

There were 8.4 divorces of opposite-sex couples per 1,000 married men and women in 2017, the lowest rates since 1973.

Divorce rates between same-sex couples however have surged, increasing more than threefold in a year, from 112 to 228.

Among heterosexual couples, the divorce rate was highest among men aged between 45 and 49 years, and women aged 40 to 44 years. The average duration of marriage at the time of divorce was 12 years for opposite-sex couples.

Unreasonable behaviour was the most common reason given by opposite-sex couples divorcing, with 52 per cent of wives and 37 per cent of husbands petitioning on these grounds.

Commenting on the figures, Victoria Gethin, Head of Family Law at Stephensons said:

“These latest figures seem to reflect a significant shift in attitudes towards marriage over the past decade with more couples choosing to cohabit for longer before tying the knot or, in some cases, opting not to marry at all.

“Though the statistics point to a general trend of decline in those seeking a divorce, it will be interesting to chart these figures over the coming years, particularly if the proposed reform of divorce law in England and Wales is introduced. Some have warned that a “no fault” option could open the floodgates for many couples seeking to end their marriage without acrimony or finger pointing.”