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Divorce Rates Are Declining

Divorce Rates Are Declining

The divorce rate for heterosexual couples in England and Wales has hit a 45-year low, new figures show.

There were 8.4 divorces of opposite-sex couples per 1,000 married men and women in 2017, representing the lowest rates since 1973 and a 6 per cent decrease from 2016, data published by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) shows.

But experts cautioned that the decrease is largely due to the fact that fewer couples are choosing to get married.

Divorce rates between same-sex couples have meanwhile surged, increasing more than threefold in a year, from 112 to 228. Three quarters of those were between female couples.

Among heterosexual couples, the divorce rate was highest among men aged between 45 and 49 years, and women aged 40 to 44 years. The average duration of marriage at the time of divorce was 12 years for opposite-sex couples.

Unreasonable behaviour was the most common reason given by opposite-sex couples divorcing, with 52 per cent of wives and 37 per cent of husbands petitioning on these grounds.

It was also the most common reason for same-sex couples divorcing, accounting for 83 per cent of divorces among women and 73 per cent among men.

The findings come after divorce rates began to rise in the 1960s before hitting an all-time high in 1993.

The new figures come after research by the Marriage Foundation  showed that the number of couples divorcing after three years of marriage had dropped by half over the last 25 years.

For couples married for five years, the rate was down by over a third (39 per cent), and by a fifth in couples who had been together for a decade, according to the data.  

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