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Divorce statistics reveal a rise in divorce rates: a look behind the figures

Oct 18, 2017   ·   3 minute read

As a specialist divorce and family finance solicitor I don’t really like to look at stats and the figures behind divorce. That’s because no one is a number or a statistic in my book and there is normally a number of ways that figures can be analysed and taken apart. However according to the Telegraph divorce rates have increased for the first time in ten years with the number of divorces up by 5.8 percent from 2015 to 2016.

Drilling down into the figures it is reported that the biggest statistical increase in divorces was for couples over the age of 50, with the average age for divorce now being 46 for men and 44 for women.

Behind the figures lies the explanation that people are getting divorced later in life as there is an increased trend to marry later and sadly, for some, to experience 2 or 3 marriage breakdowns and divorces.

Of interest is the fact that the number of divorce proceedings initiated by men is increasing. In 2002 men started nearly 28 percent of divorces but by 2016 that percentage had increased to 39 percent of all the divorce proceedings commenced in that year. I suspect that is down to the fact that over the years the stigma of being a respondent in divorce proceedings has all but disappeared with an acceptance that marriages break down and divorces occur. There is therefore no longer the same degree of sensitivity about who should start the divorce proceedings provided that the couple can agree the basis for the divorce petition, and ideally its contents.

Unsurprisingly unreasonable behaviour remains the most common basis upon which couples get divorced. That’s because you still can’t get a no fault divorce in the UK. Hopefully the statistics will show the government that it is time for a change to allow couples to get divorced without having to cite unreasonable behaviour or adultery if they want a speedy divorce. The intention isn’t to make divorce easy but to make sure that if sadly a marriage breaks down the separation and divorce is as painless as possible as, in most family solicitors’ experience, if a couple are able to agree the basis for their divorce they are far more likely to be able to sort out childcare and financial matters without expensive Court litigation.

On a positive front, when it comes to divorce statistics England isn’t the divorce capital of the world. That is thought to be the Maldives, with Russia, the US and Aruba also featuring high on the divorce international statistics. The stats don’t really show the full picture and if you are the unfortunate one initiating or responding to divorce proceedings in 2017 the important thing is to get the help and support you need to guide you through the divorce process and to focus on sorting out an agreement on childcare and financial matters.

For help in starting divorce proceedings or to ask a question about divorce, children or financial matters please contact me on 01625 728012 or by e-mail at