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What Can We Learn From The Latest Divorce Figures?

Reasons to choose Wilson Browne

As we approach the awaited change in divorce law in April 2022 there are some interesting numbers from the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

Beyond doubt, the numbers above have been affected by the impact on the Courts of the pandemic, which includes the temporary suspension of operations in some Courts and also the time taken to conclude proceedings.

There are some big changes on the horizon in divorce law especially the ‘no fault divorce’ – believe it or not, no matter how amicable the divorce is, someone has to be at fault! Normally, one party has to cite behaviour, adultery, 5 years separation, 2 years separation with consent, or desertion.

Looking back on the numbers:

• There were 102,438 opposite sex divorces in 2020, a decrease of 4.8% on the 2019 figures.

• Unreasonable behaviour was the most common reason used by wives as a ground for divorce in opposite sex couples in 2020 – almost half of petitions, whilst husbands used two year’s separation as the ground for divorce.

  • In the same year, there were 1,154 divorces amongst same sex couples, an increase of 40.4% on the 2019 figures.
  •  Most of this number were made up of female same sex divorces at just over 71%.
  • Another interesting fact is that In 2020 the average duration of a marriage at the time of divorce was 11.9 years of opposite sex couples; whereas same sex divorces showed an average duration of just 4.7 years for female couples and 5.4 years for male couples.

(one consideration before reading too much into the figures is that divorces among same sex couples have only been possible since 2015 following the introduction of same sex marriages in March of 2014).

Trying to interpret the story behind the figures is best left to the sociologists, but the figures do make interesting reading.

For a free initial chat with no obligation, call us today for help and advice including separation, divorce, children, and whether proceedings before or after the change in the law (in April) would be most appropriate.

Heather Davies


Heather Davies

Associate Legal Practitioner

Heather is Head of the Family Team and has over 30 years experience in advising clients on all aspects of relationship breakdown including disputes involving arrangements for children and the financial aspects within divorce.