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Divorce Statistics

Divorce Statistics 2022

Divorce solicitors, Crisp & Co, take a look at the newly released ONS divorce statistics, breaking down the key stats.

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 seem to be continuing to fall. The infographic below contains a number of interesting divorce statistics for UK couples living in England and Wales:

Divorce Statistics

How many marriages end in divorce?

The latest divorce statistics show that 103,592 couples divorced in 2020. Interestingly, this was a 4% decrease on the previous year. Of these, 102,438 were opposite sex couples and 1,154 were same sex couples  - an increase of around 40% compared to 2019.

How much does divorce cost?

Family breakdown is estimated to cost the taxpayer £48 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

Court fees will vary depending on how the divorce proceeds. The court fee for filing a divorce petition in England and Wales is currently £550.

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.

Legal fees

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 for representing you in negotiations or in court.

Any financial settlement you must pay to your spouse

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, 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?

Either spouse can start the divorce process, but divorce statistics show that, in opposite-sex couples, 63% of divorce petitions are filed by the wife. In 2019, 62% of divorce petitions were submitted by the wife in opposite-sex partnerships.

Wives have been the primary instigators for divorce in opposite-sex relationships since 1949, although statistics show that this proportion is falling.

Are more people getting divorced nowadays?

Divorce rates appear to be falling and have been since 2000 – as reflected in the number of divorces between 2019 and 2020. This could be because couples are more likely to live together before they get married or as an alternative to marriage, particularly when they are younger.

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. This may mean couples are more likely to make better choices about whom to marry, and can handle conflict within the marriage better.

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.

How long are couples married before they get divorced?

The most recent UK divorce statistics indicate that more couples are divorcing during their first year of marriage compared to 2019. The divorce rates in this instance show that 1,274 divorces ended before the two-year mark in 2019, whereas 1,530 divorces ended before two years in 2020 – an increase of around 20%.

This particular divorce 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 weren’t well suited to one another to find reasons to apply for divorce.

What reasons did people use for divorce in 2020?

The divorce statistics illustrate that, for opposite sex couples, all of the reasons used to prove the irretrievable breakdown of the relationship have decreased from the previous year, with the exception of ‘two years separation with consent’. The use of this reason increased for both husband and wife. 

In opposite sex relationships, it is also notable that the use of ‘unreasonable behaviour’ among wives is more than double than husbands (30,281 compared to 12,913).

For same sex couples, the two most common reasons used for divorce are unreasonable behaviour and two year separation with consent. The least common reason used was adultery. This is likely because adultery only concerns sexual relations with someone of the opposite sex. 

Speak to our expert divorce solicitors

The Good Divorce Company at Crisp & Co have many years of experience helping people to manage 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.

To discuss your needs with one of our expert divorce solicitors, call us today on 020 3281 7886 or fill in our simple online enquiry form for a swift response.

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