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Latest figures and trends for divorce revealed by ONS

The Office for National Statistics has published the latest figures and trends for divorce in England and Wales.

In 2019, the divorce rate increased by 18.4% – although it is thought that some of this increase relates to a backlog of work being processed by the Court, resulting in a higher number of cases being completed in 2019. It remains, however, the largest highest percentage increase in divorce since 1972.

Unreasonable behaviour is still the most common ground for divorce, with more women than men starting divorce proceedings. In 2019, the average length of time spent married was 12.3 years before divorce.

There has been a recent trend of decline in the divorce rate in recent years, though this is in part due to a fall in the marriage rate. More couples live together than ever before. The latest figures show 88% of couples live together before marriage and many of these are young aged between 16 and 29. Those in same sex marriages account for 0.4% of the married population.

Couples often divorce when either one or both of them undergo a significant change, such as job insecurity, financial stress, redundancy, debt, early retirement or changes in working pattern to name but a few. It is therefore anticipated by many that the wide-ranging effects of COVID-19 on the economy will have a devastating effect on many couples who will call time on their marriage.

The court system has experienced problems with delay during the coronavirus pandemic and divorces are taking many months if complications arise. It is important to obtain the right advice about your money and children when separating to make sure you are taking the right steps. For a confidential discussion with our Family Law team, please call 0113 201 4902 or email

Gabbie  Clasper

Written by

Gabbie Clasper

Head of Family Law

Gabbie has over 20 years’ experience in family law. She has expert knowledge in complex issues including financial aspects following divorce; pre and post-nuptial agreements; cases with an international element; and civil partnerships. Gabbie is regularly instructed by clients based across the country and abroad. She...

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