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UK Divorce Statistics 2023
Divorce solicitors, Crisp & Co, take a look at the newly released ONS divorce statistics, breaking down the key data.
People say that 50% of marriages end in divorce, and many people believe divorce rates have increased in recent years. The question is, do UK divorce statistics actually reflect this?
In fact, divorce rates are at their lowest levels since the 1970s, and have continued to fall over the past few years. However, despite this ultimate fall, the most recent divorce statistics show an increase in 2021. It is unclear yet whether this is an anomaly, or a pattern of increase. It leads us to question whether divorce rates are on the rise again post-Covid, especially with the introduction of the No Fault Divorce law in 2022.
The infographic below contains a number of interesting divorce statistics regarding UK couples living in England and Wales. Please note, due to the introduction of No Fault Divorce in 2022, there is now no need to provide 'reasons’ for divorce. Our infographics regarding these statistics are for 2021:
How many marriages end in divorce?
The latest divorce statistics show that 113,505 couples divorced in 2021 compared to 103,592 couples in 2020. Interestingly, this was almost a 10% increase on the previous year. Of these, 111,934 were opposite sex couples and 1,571 were same sex couples - an increase of around 36% compared to 2020 for same sex marriages.
How much does divorce cost?
Family breakdown is estimated to cost the taxpayer £51 billion per year. Factors that affect this figure include:
- The effects on health
- Extra housing support
- Legal aid
- Lost work hours
- Other factors
There are four main costs associated with getting divorced:
Court fees will vary depending on how the divorce proceeds. The court fee for filing a divorce petition in England and Wales is currently £593.
You can ask the Court for Help with Court Fees if your financial circumstances meet certain criteria. The court can either waive the full court fee or part of it.
There are usually other court fees associated with getting divorced too. For example, if you need the court to make a Financial Order or you want to make a Consent Order to formalise a voluntary agreement about children or finances, you will have to pay.
You can achieve a divorce without incurring legal fees. If you do decide you need a solicitor to advise you, legal fees will include the cost of retaining a solicitor to advise you on the legal aspects of your divorce, as well as their fees (and potentially Counsel’s fees) for representing you in negotiations or in court.
Any financial settlement you must pay to your spouse
A financial settlement may require you to give money or other assets to your former spouse or pay ongoing maintenance. You can agree this settlement privately, by using alternative dispute resolution methods, with the assistance of your solicitors, or in court.
Any child maintenance you are required to pay
Any child maintenance you have to pay will depend on your income, the number of children you have, any benefits you receive (including income support, incapacity benefit or a state pension) and how many other children live in your household.
Who applies for divorce?
As per the new No-Fault Divorce Law, spouses can apply for a divorce jointly for the first time. It is also possible for either spouse to start the divorce process as a sole application.
Divorce statistics show that, in opposite-sex couples, 62% of divorce petitions are filed by the wife. Wives have been the primary instigators for divorce in opposite-sex relationships since 1949, although statistics show that this proportion has fallen gradually over time.
Are more people getting divorced?
Divorce rates appear to be falling and have been since before 2000. This could be due to societal changes and developments, for example, because couples are more likely to live together and have children before they get married.
Another possible reason for the decline in divorce rates is that many people are getting married when they are older, meaning they may be more mature and have more relationship experience.
Furthermore, divorce has become more socially acceptable since the mid to late 1900s.
Interestingly, previous divorce statistics indicated that there was an increase of around 16,000 divorces between 2018 and 2019, but this rise in divorce rates was thought to be down to divorce centres catching up on a backlog of divorces, rather than being an accurate reflection of the number of couples who were looking to get divorced.
That said, with the introduction of the No Fault Divorce law in April 2022, we predict that we may witness an increase in divorce applications as the process is now easier, and arguably less contentious. We will certainly be interested to review the 2022 UK divorce stats to ascertain if this prediction is accurate when they are released at the end of this year.
How long are couples married before they get divorced?
In UK law, it is not possible to divorce during the first year of marriage. However, the divorce statistics do also include annulments and separations.
The most recent UK divorce statistics indicate that fewer couples are separating/annulling during their first year of marriage compared to 2020. The annulment rates in this instance show that 1,530 marriages ended before one year in 2020, whereas 1,293 marriages ended before one year in 2021 – a decrease of around 15%.
In comparison, there was a 20% increase between the years 2019 and 2020. We posit that this statistic could have been affected by the unusual and unprecedented circumstances brought on the by onset of the Covid-19 pandemic. The fact that couples were forced to spend increased amounts of time together may have acted as a catalyst for couples who were not well suited to one another to find reasons to apply for divorce.
Come 2021, which the most recent statistics refer to, this situation is no longer applicable, which could account for the dramatic decrease since.
Speak to our expert divorce solicitors
Crisp & Co have many years of experience representing modern families in managing the end of their marriages and civil partnerships. We know how confusing, stressful, and emotionally-taxing divorce can be, as well as the concerns about children and finances that come with ending a relationship.
Our divorce solicitors can advise you on all aspects of getting divorced, helping you to separate from your former partner as quickly and cost-effectively as possible, while minimising the potential for conflict.
Our family law team contains a number of experts in mediation and collaborative law who can help you follow a non-confrontational approach to your divorce wherever possible. We aim to minimise the emotional fallout and the risks of lasting acrimony between you and your former spouse. This can be especially important where you have children who you will need to continue co-parenting together.
We’re leading experts in no-fault divorce, the new divorce law that allows couples to end their relationship without having to place any blame. This makes divorce much more cooperative and removes the risk of conflict.
Where court action is the best or only option to pursue your divorce, we have the expertise to put together the strongest possible case for you, ensuring you get a fair settlement.
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