Unreasonable behaviour still the most common reason for divorce, latest statistics reveal

November 28, 2018

The number of marriages of opposite sex couples in England and Wales ending in divorce last year fell to the lowest level since 1973, according to latest statistics.

Figures just published by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) show that divorces of opposite-sex couples dropped five per cent to 101,000 in 2017, meaning a total of 42% of marriages now end in divorce.

Unreasonable behaviour remained the most common reason for divorcing, while the average length of a marriage is 12 years – a high last seen in 1973.

In opposite-sex couples, 52% of wives and 37% of husbands petitioned on grounds of unreasonable behaviour.  Among same-sex couples, it was cited in 83% of divorces among women, and 73% among men.

The figures also reveal that:

  • Half of all marriages end within the first ten years
  • The likelihood of divorce falls after 20 years of marriage
  • The divorce rate for opposite-sex couples was highest among men aged 45 to 49 years and women aged 40 to 44 years
  • There were 338 divorces of same-sex couples, more than three times the number in 2016; while three-quarters of same-sex couples divorcing were female


Commenting on the new statistics, leading Warrington divorce solicitor, Danny Hudson, said:

“The decline continues a trend from an all-time high in 2010.  However, the fact that unreasonable behaviour continues to be the main reason for initiating divorce, shows that, in many cases, sorting out the legalities to terminate a marriage can prove to be emotionally and financially draining.”

Danny, a partner and member of the family law department at Watsons Solicitors, added: “It’s a good idea to consult a qualified divorce specialist lawyer at the outset.  He or she will explain the process, and share their knowledge of the local court’s workload, so you get an idea how long it will take.

“If you’re unsure where to start or what to expect, Watsons offers a free initial consultation, where you can seek expert advice without any obligation to go ahead with us.

“If you do proceed, we have a competitive fixed-fee divorce package, so you will know at the outset how much the whole process will cost.  There will be no surprise extra bills at the end.”

Established more than 60 years ago, Watsons Solicitors specialises in family law, as well as employment law, wills and probate, and conveyancing.

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