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Divorces in 2019 rose by 18 per cent

Increase partly reflects divorce centres processing a backlog of casework

There were 107,599 divorces of opposite-sex couples in 2019, increasing by 18.4 per cent from 90,871 in 2018. The figures have been released by the Office for National Statistics. The scale of this increase partly reflects divorce centres processing a backlog of casework in 2018, which is likely to have translated into a higher number of completed divorces in 2019.

The divorce rate among opposite-sex couples in 2019 increased to 8.9 divorces per 1,000 married men and women aged 16 years and over from 7.5 in 2018. This increase will have been impacted by the additional processing of casework in 2018.

There were 822 divorces among same-sex couples in 2019, nearly twice the number in 2018 (428 divorces). Of these, nearly three-quarters (72 per cent) were between female couples.

Unreasonable behaviour was the most common reason for opposite-sex couples divorcing in 2019 with 49 per cent of wives and 35 per cent of husbands petitioning on these grounds. It was also the most common reason for same-sex couples divorcing, accounting for 63 per cent of divorces among women and 70 per cent among men.

In 2019, the average (median) duration of marriage at the time of divorce was 12.3 years for opposite-sex couples, a small decrease from 12.5 years in the previous year.

Kanak Ghosh, on behalf of the Office for National Statistics, commented:

"Same-sex couples have been able to marry in England and Wales from March 2014. Since then, we have seen the number of divorces of same-sex couples increase each year from very small numbers in 2015 when the first divorces took place, to more than 800 in 2019, reflecting the increasing size of the same-sex married population in England and Wales.

"While we see that 56 per cent of same-sex marriages were among females, nearly three-quarters of same-sex divorces in 2019 were to female couples. Unreasonable behaviour, which includes adultery, was the most common ground for divorce among same-sex couples this year as almost two-thirds of couples divorced for this reason."

For the statistical release, click here.