Divorce figures rise to highest level since 2009

The divorce rate has risen to its highest level since 2009, according to the latest figures from the Office for National Statistics.

It’s thought that financial concerns could be one of the main reasons for the rise. There were 106,959 divorces of opposite-sex couples in 2016, an increase of 5.8% compared with 2015.

This amounted to 8.9 divorces per 1,000 married men and women aged 16 and over. Despite this, divorce rates in 2016 were more that 20% lower than the recent peak in 2003 and 2004.

The divorce rate was highest among men aged 45 to 49 and women aged 30 to 39. More than six out of 10 divorces were petitioned by the wife, with unreasonable behaviour being the most common reason given.

Nicola Haines, from the ONS, said it was important to view the figures in a wider context. She said: “Although the number of divorces of opposite-sex couples in England and Wales increased by 5.8% in 2016 compared with 2015, the number remains 30% lower than the most recent peak in 2003.

“This is the second year that divorces among same-sex couples have been possible since the introduction of marriages of same-sex couples in March 2014. Our latest marriage figures show that of the 4,850 marriages formed between same-sex couples in 2014, 56% were female couples. “In 2016, there were 112 divorces among same-sex couples, with female couples accounting for 78% of these.”

Chris Sherwood, chief executive of the relationship support charity Relate, said: “It is unclear as to why there was a slight increase in divorces in 2016 and as to whether this rise will continue or not. “We know that money worries are one of the top strains on relationships and it may be that rising levels of household debt and stagnating pay growth could be contributing factors.”


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